WEDNESDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2011
Press TV (Chiang Mai) – It has been four years since the gripping images of thousands of monks clad with saffron robes with bowls turned upside down and marching through the streets of Yangon reached the world.
It has been four years since the Saffron Revolution when these monks were joined by civilians from all walks of life in defiance of the then ruling government.
Several organizations that have been working towards these rights for the people of Myanmar held a peace vigil in the Chiang Mai Thailand to mark the protests that ended with a violent military crackdown.
The Saffron revolution was not sparked by a quest for political reform. It was the result of the economic desperation of the people faced with extraordinary overnight inflation in fuel, food and basic commodities. In addition to these amenities people also marched for what they called freedom. Freedom to peaceably assemble, freedom to question authority and finally freedom to elect their leaders.
Monks who were actively involved in organizing the Saffron Revolution led the march in Chiang Mai. And those who followed suit carried photos of pro-democracy activists, journalists and human rights advocates behind bars.
The 14 organizations participating in the vigil believe that reform is futile without the immediate release of political prisoners and comprehensive peace negotiations with ethnic armed groups.
Those heading human rights advocacy groups in exile recognize that there have been changes in power structures since elections.
But they would like to see full access to the general public without politicization of human rights issues.
The new leadership has highlighted economic reform and investment in education and health care as pivotal to their agenda. Meanwhile, even the most optimistic reports on the new government point out that ending conflict in ethnic minority regions is a pre-requisite to stability for Myanmar.