Tue 19 Feb 2013
Filed under: Inside Burma,News,Protest / Strike
A group of peace marchers currently walking to the Kachin capital of Laiza has divided into two groups—both now marching separately—following disagreements, according to the leaders of the two factions. Twenty-two activists set off from Yangon on January 21 on an 800-mile journey by foot to Laiza in Kachin State, calling for an end to the ongoing conflict in Kachin State.
This faction is led by Yan Naing Tun, 25, a former political prisoner who was released last year. Another group, led by activist Thant Zin, set off from Myin Chan in Mandalay Division. The two groups merged in Palate in Sintgaing Township, Mandalay, on February 14 and separated when they left Mandalay.
Yan Naing Tun’s group of more than 60 activists chose Myitkyina Road, which is located on the west bank of the Ayeyarwaddy River. Thant Zin’s group of about 10 activists took the Bhamo Road on the east bank of the river.
Despite sharing the same mission, the groups separated due to differing political opinions, according to Yan Naing Tun.
“We have announced that in making peace, we will be based on neither party-centered perspective nor ism-centered perspective nor personality cult. We focus only on peace,” he said.
The group led by Thant Zin, a former chairman of the Upper Burma chapter of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), flew “fighting peacock” flags, Buddhist flags and other banners whenever they reached a town during their journey—that is why disagreements occurred, said Yan Naing Tun.
Aung Myin, an activist from Thant Zin’s group, said that the other group had asked them not to fly the flags.
However, he added that, “We we cannot do as they say. Our goal is to march to Laiza. Whether we fly flags or not, it is not our main goal.”
Both groups have had to sign pledges in the presence of police officers, promising that they would not hold placards, give loud speeches or fly flags.
Former political prisoners Ashin Ottama, Ashin Pathakka and ABFSU executive Nyan Myint Than are included in Thant Zin’s group.
Officers from 12 township police stations in the Yangon Region and two township police stations in Bago Region have charged all peace marchers with breaching Section 18 of the Peaceful Protest Law.