More than a year after pro-democracy demonstrations were violently crushed by the Burmese military junta, protest organizers remain in prison. Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, among others, are being detained under harsh conditions for what began as a peaceful protest against skyrocketing fuel prices.
The August arrests of the student leaders inspired tens of thousands of Buddhist monks and ordinary Burmese citizens to take to the streets in cities across Burma calling for freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights in Burma. Although the demonstrations remained peaceful, the regime reacted with brutality, killing many and arresting hundreds more.
According to the human rights group Amnesty International, there are still more than two-thousand political prisoners in Burma. And there seems to be no end to the arrests. Most recently, Burmese police took Myint Aye into custody after searching his home. He is a member and founder of the group Human Rights Defenders and Promoters. Myint Aye has been arrested and imprisoned at least five previous times since 1988. In April, he was attacked on the street by two unidentified men. The assault was one of several perpetrated against opponents of the new constitution backed by the Burmese regime.
Meanwhile, Burma's most famous political prisoner and pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi remains under house arrest. Her latest period of confinement dates from May 2003. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent more than thirteen years of the last nineteen years under house arrest.
The United States renews its call for the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners and end its attempts to intimidate and silence those who seek the promotion of democracy and human rights in Burma. The U.S. also continues to urge the military junta to engage in a meaningful dialogue with Burma's democratic and ethnic minority leaders on a credible transition to democracy. And finally, the government should lift restrictions on the operations of all humanitarian organizations in Burma.