New York: The Burmese community in New York, USA, staged a protest on Sunday against the Burmese Government’s Peace Delegation led by U Aung Min in front of the UN building in New York demanding the release of student leader Ray Min Oo, said Ko Tint Way who is an organizer of the protest.
About 100 ethnic Burmese protesters, mainly Arakanese, gathered in front of the UN building in New York at 1 PM, where the delegation has stayed during the visit to accept a peace prize from the International Crisis Group on behalf of Burma’s President Thein Sein.
During the protest, the demonstrators shouted out many slogans against the Burmese government and demanded the release of student leader Ko Ray Min Oo who has been detained by police since 25 March 2013.
“ Ray Min Oo has been arrested by the authorities without any solid grounds. The authority has not disclosed any evidences of his arrest. The arrest of Ray Min Oo is not justice; it is we believe against the national reconciliation. So we demand them to release Ray Min Oo immediately,” said another organizer Ko Than Tin.
Ray Min Oo was arrested by plainclothes police from a monastery in Yangon’s Bahan township at the night of 25 March 2013 while he was staying there .
On 4 April, he was produced at the western district court of Yangon division where he has been charged by authorities with defaming the state under section No 505 (Kha) of the penal code.
“ Ray Min Oo is an Arakanese national and he was a university student studying in Yangon economic university before the 2007 saffron revolution. He is now working at the Federation of Student Union organizing committee as General Secretary. He is an innocent man,” Ko Than Tin said.
Many Arakanese have believed the arrest of Ray Min Oo is a game played by government authorities in order to console the Muslim community for recent violence in Mithila, a town in central Burma.
The authorities however accused Ko Ray Min Oo of being involved in the 969 religious movement along with some other prominent monks.
During the protest, the demonstrators were holding posters and shouting slogans which are “ 2008 Constitution- no need, no need,” “ the release of all political prisoners - our course, our course” “ The religious and communal violence- no need, no need,” “ U Aung Min and U Khin Yee are – liars, liars”.
The protestors also conveyed an appeal letter to president U Thein Sein through the peace delegation.
Aung Min, the President’s Office Minister as well as leader of the Burmese government’s efforts to negotiate ceasefires and peace deals with armed ethnic rebel groups, lead the Burma peace delegation where there are many prominent leaders from the Burma Peace Center including immigration minister Khin Yee, Hla Maung Shwe, Dr. Kyaw Yin Hlaing and Dr Min Zaw Oo.
The delegation also visited the UK and Ireland before the USA to learn about the peace process there.