ucanews.com reporter, Mandalay
Updated: March 26, 2012 06:58 AM GMT
Hundreds of Buddhist monks gathered yesterday to pray for the release of all remaining political prisoners in the country. Venerable Wirathu, who led the prayer event at the Mahamyatmuni pagoda in Mandalay, said his experiences as a political prisoner led him to focus on the plight of others prisoners of conscience. “I am used to visiting the relatives of the remaining political prisoners, and I encourage them not to feel depressed,” he said. “This has motivated me to organize this prayer program,” he said. Venerable Wirathu was released from Myitkyina prison in Kachin state in January as part of a general amnesty that saw the release of prominent opposition leader Min Ko Naing of the 88 Generation Students and other prominent political activists. International human rights groups estimate that hundreds of political prisoners remain in detention. “I am determined to continue to try to [encourage the] release of all remaining political prisoners by peaceful means,” Venerable Wirathu said. Yesterday’s event included the symbolic freeing of birds and fish. Daw Tin Htay of Kyauksae city, Mandalay division, said her son was still behind bars for his political beliefs. “My son is not a criminal,” she said, holding a vinyl sleeve of photos. “My son is not yet free, though former spy chief Khin Nyunt who arrested her son has already been released,” read a note underneath one of the photos, referring to the former prime minister and intelligence chief deposed in 2004 and held under house arrest.