ABSDF Calls for Release of All Political Prisoners

A prisoner’s hand grips the bars on the window of a prison van as he leaves a court in Rangoon, where he was charged with inciting unrest by participating in a Nov. 26 protest against a copper mine in northwest Burma. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

A prisoner’s hand grips the bars on the window of a prison van as he leaves a court in Rangoon, where he was charged with inciting unrest by participating in a Nov. 26 protest against a copper mine in northwest Burma. (Photo: Steve Tickner / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON—Leaders of a prominent armed group have called on Burma’s nominally civilian government to unconditionally release all remaining political prisoners, including their comrades.

“To build trust with opposition groups and to go forward with the peace and reconciliation process, it’s important to release political prisoners,” Than Kae, a spokesman for the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF) told reporters in Rangoon on Thursday.

Than Kae said that after submitting a list of political prisoners to government officials during earlier peace negotiations, 10 prisoners were released.

“However, 24 of us remain in the prisons, with over 80 years of prison sentences,” he said. “And there are many people from different opposition groups and armed groups who aren’t even named as political prisoners [but are in jail].”

Nine ABSDF representatives are on a two-week visit to Burma which will also include a stop in the capital, Naypyidaw.

In Rangoon, Burma’s biggest city, the delegation met with Tin Oo, a patron of opposition leader of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, along with ethnic Shan, Arakan and Mon leaders from the United Nationalities Alliance.

The delegation also met with activists from the 88 Generation Students group.

“We will work together for development and reform in the country,” Than Kae said.

ABSDF was formed in November 1988, shortly after a series of national pro-democracy demonstrations, when student activists fled to border areas to fight against the military regime.

The group continued to oppose the country’s former military dictators for two decades, and its members today are based on both sides of the borders with Thailand, India and China.

The ABSDF delegation in Rangoon said their trip to Burma was the result of a meeting in November with the government’s chief peace negotiator, Minister Aung Min of the President’s Office, in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The group said their participation in the peace talks showed they were willing to have political conversations rather than resorting to armed conflict.

“While there’s a civil war in Kachin State, we are here talking for peace,” said Than Kae, referring to the conflict between ethnic minority rebels and the government army in Burma’s northernmost state. Some ABSDF members have allied with the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) there.

“The country is in a very difficult situation,” Than Kae added. “We just want to have a nationwide ceasefire and peace, but for that we cannot work alone. The most responsible party is the government itself.”

President Thein Sein’s nominally civilian government has signed ceasefire agreements with more than 10 ethnic rebel groups and continues to hold peace talks with them.

However, clashes continue with some armed groups, especially in Kachin State, where fighting has escalated since a 17-year ceasefire broke down in June 2011.

10 Responses to ABSDF Calls for Release of All Political Prisoners

  1. Burma’s continued, widespread persecution of ethnic minorities, human rights defenders and political prisoners is a disgrace and stands as a shameful indictment of Burma’s leaders.

    • Better to look at yourself whether you have done anything good in developing and moving forward this country out of all this trouble. It is not good enough by sitting at the corner and making comments on who is right and who is wrong. Time to move forward as your comments make no contribution towards our country’s development.

  2. The Methods of Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion

    Formal Statements
    1. Public Speeches
    2. Letters of opposition or support
    3. Declarations by organizations and institutions
    4. Signed public statements
    5. Declarations of indictment and intention
    6. Group or mass petitions

    Communications with a Wider Audience
    7. Slogans, caricatures, and symbols
    8. Banners, posters, and displayed communications
    9. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books
    10. Newspapers and journals
    11. Records, radio, and television
    12. Skywriting and earthwriting

    Group Representations
    13. Deputations
    14. Mock awards
    15. Group lobbying
    16. Picketing
    17. Mock elections

    Symbolic Public Acts
    18. Displays of flags and symbolic colors
    19. Wearing of symbols
    20. Prayer and worship
    21. Delivering symbolic objects
    22. Protest disrobings
    23. Destruction of own property
    24. Symbolic lights
    25. Displays of portraits
    26. Paint as protest
    27. New signs and names
    28. Symbolic sounds
    29. Symbolic reclamations
    30. Rude gestures

    Pressures on Individuals
    31. “Haunting” officials
    32. Taunting officials
    33. Fraternization
    34. Vigils

    Drama and Music
    35. Humorous skits and pranks
    36. Performances of plays and music
    37. Singing

    38. Marches
    39. Parades
    40. Religious processions
    41. Pilgrimages
    42. Motorcades

    Honoring the Dead
    43. Political mourning
    44. Mock funerals
    45. Demonstrative funerals
    46. Homage at burial places

    Public Assemblies
    47. Assemblies of protest or support
    48. Protest meetings
    49. Camouflaged meetings of protest
    50. Teach-ins

    Withdrawal and Renunciation
    51. Walk-outs
    52. Silence
    53. Renouncing honors
    54. Turning one’s back

    The Methods of Social Noncooperation

    Ostracism of Persons
    55. Social boycott
    56. Selective social boycott
    57. Lysistratic nonaction
    58. Excommunication
    59. Interdict

    Noncooperation with Social Events, Customs, and Institutions
    60. Suspension of social and sports activities
    61. Boycott of social affairs
    62. Student strike
    63. Social disobedience
    64. Withdrawal from social institutions

    Withdrawal from the Social System
    65. Stay-at-home
    66. Total personal noncooperation
    67. “Flight” of workers
    68. Sanctuary
    69. Collective disappearance
    70. Protest emigration (hijrat)

    The Methods of Economic Noncooperation: Economic Boycotts

    Actions by Consumers
    71. Consumers’ boycott
    72. Nonconsumption of boycotted goods
    73. Policy of austerity
    74. Rent withholding
    75. Refusal to rent
    76. National consumers’ boycott
    77. International consumers’ boycott

    Action by Workers and Producers
    78. Workmen’s boycott
    79. Producers’ boycott

    Action by Middlemen
    80. Suppliers’ and handlers’ boycott

    Action by Owners and Management
    81. Traders’ boycott
    82. Refusal to let or sell property
    83. Lockout
    84. Refusal of industrial assistance
    85. Merchants’ “general strike”

    Action by Holders of Financial Resources
    86. Withdrawal of bank deposits
    87. Refusal to pay fees, dues, and assessments
    88. Refusal to pay debts or interest
    89. Severance of funds and credit
    90. Revenue refusal
    91. Refusal of a government’s money

    Action by Governments
    92. Domestic embargo
    93. Blacklisting of traders
    94. International sellers’ embargo
    95. International buyers’ embargo
    96. International trade embargo

    The Methods of Economic Noncooperation: The Strike

    Symbolic Strikes
    97. Protest strike
    98. Quickie walkout (lightning strike)

    Agricultural Strikes
    99. Peasant strike
    100. Farm Workers’ strike

    Strikes by Special Groups
    101. Refusal of impressed labor
    102. Prisoners’ strike
    103. Craft strike
    104. Professional strike

    Ordinary Industrial Strikes
    105. Establishment strike
    106. Industry strike
    107. Sympathetic strike

    Restricted Strikes
    108. Detailed strike
    109. Bumper strike
    110. Slowdown strike
    111. Working-to-rule strike
    112. Reporting “sick” (sick-in)
    113. Strike by resignation
    114. Limited strike
    115. Selective strike

    Multi-Industry Strikes
    116. Generalized strike
    117. General strike

    Combination of Strikes and Economic Closures
    118. Hartal
    119. Economic shutdown

    The Methods of Political Noncooperation

    Rejection of Authority
    120. Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance
    121. Refusal of public support
    122. Literature and speeches advocating resistance

    Citizens’ Noncooperation with Government
    123. Boycott of legislative bodies
    124. Boycott of elections
    125. Boycott of government employment and positions
    126. Boycott of government departments, agencies, and other bodies
    127. Withdrawal from government educational institutions
    128. Boycott of government-supported organizations
    129. Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents
    130. Removal of own signs and placemarks
    131. Refusal to accept appointed officials
    132. Refusal to dissolve existing institutions

    Citizens’ Alternatives to Obedience
    133. Reluctant and slow compliance
    134. Nonobedience in absence of direct supervision
    135. Popular nonobedience
    136. Disguised disobedience
    137. Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse
    138. Sitdown
    139. Noncooperation with conscription and deportation
    140. Hiding, escape, and false identities
    141. Civil disobedience of “illegitimate” laws

    Action by Government Personnel
    142. Selective refusal of assistance by government aides
    143. Blocking of lines of command and information
    144. Stalling and obstruction
    145. General administrative noncooperation
    146. Judicial noncooperation
    147. Deliberate inefficiency and selective noncooperation by
    enforcement agents
    148. Mutiny

    Domestic Governmental Action
    149. Quasi-legal evasions and delays
    150. Noncooperation by constituent governmental units

    International Governmental Action
    151. Changes in diplomatic and other representations
    152. Delay and cancellation of diplomatic events
    153. Withholding of diplomatic recognition
    154. Severance of diplomatic relations
    155. Withdrawal from international organizations
    156. Refusal of membership in international bodies
    157. Expulsion from international organizations

    The Methods of Nonviolent Intervention

    Psychological Intervention
    158. Self-exposure to the elements
    159. The fast
    a) Fast of moral pressure
    b) Hunger strike
    c) Satyagrahic fast
    160. Reverse trial
    161. Nonviolent harassment

    Physical Intervention
    162. Sit-in
    163. Stand-in
    164. Ride-in
    165. Wade-in
    166. Mill-in
    167. Pray-in
    168. Nonviolent raids
    169. Nonviolent air raids
    170. Nonviolent invasion
    171. Nonviolent interjection
    172. Nonviolent obstruction
    173. Nonviolent occupation

    Social Intervention
    174. Establishing new social patterns
    175. Overloading of facilities
    176. Stall-in
    177. Speak-in
    178. Guerrilla theater
    179. Alternative social institutions
    180. Alternative communication system

    Economic Intervention
    181. Reverse strike
    182. Stay-in strike
    183. Nonviolent land seizure
    184. Defiance of blockades
    185. Politically motivated counterfeiting
    186. Preclusive purchasing
    187. Seizure of assets
    188. Dumping
    189. Selective patronage
    190. Alternative markets
    191. Alternative transportation systems
    192. Alternative economic institutions

    Political Intervention
    193. Overloading of administrative systems
    194. Disclosing identities of secret agents
    195. Seeking imprisonment
    196. Civil disobedience of “neutral” laws
    197. Work-on without collaboration
    198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government

    Source: Sharp, Gene. The Politics of Nonviolent Action (3 Vols.), Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973. Provided courtesy of the Albert Einstein Institution.

    • Gene Sharp is the messiah of Colour Revolutions and Arab Spring, and many are familiar with his book “From Dictatorship to Democracy”.. His take on Burma’s lack of success is interesting.

      It’s an exhaustive list his non-violent methods.
      148. Mutiny
      198. Dual sovereignty and parallel government…Non-violent?!
      Ultimately that’s what it’s going to take. But does our great opposition leader has what it takes? How to start a revolution or not.

    • Well presented copy and paste work. I am quiet impressed with your research or browsing work. If you could find time browse through a little more about the history of “Myanmar”. Preferably between 1826 to 1988. Then make your recommendation to reach solution for all conflicts. Don’t leave any piece of the history. That will be interesting.

      • Why thanks Bill. You will note that I credited the source: Sharp, Gene. The Politics of Nonviolent Action (3 Vols.), Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973. Provided courtesy of the Albert Einstein Institution.

        I am happy to look at Burma’s history 1826 to 1988, but remember a nation that keeps one eye on the past is wise. A nation that keeps two eyes on the past is blind.

  3. I would like to request President U Thein Sein to start to take action for under mention matter for peace for all people.-
    “The Myanmar Govt should release all kinds of prisoners (not only political) from all jails in Myanmar & enact building for new laws & new punishments for new criminal cases from the first day of February 2013.”

    God blessed U Thein Sein (Myanmar President) & All people in our country.

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