Professor Dr. Salai Tun Than To Stage Hunger Strike Over Burma’s Referendum In New York
A retired Chin Professor, Dr. Salai Tun Than, arrived in New York, USA yesterday to urge the UN Security Council to monitor Burma’s referendum which is to be held in May, 2008.
Flying from San Francisco on his 80th birthday, a prominent Christian political prisoner intends to start a solo hunger strike in front of the UN headquarter if and until his demands are not considered and met.
“Regarding the referendum, I don’t think we can do anything to stop them [the military regime]. But we would like the UN Security Council to take necessary actions by supervising the process,” an 80 year-old Burmese scholar told Chinland Guardian.
Admitting he has been talking with a Church pastor in New York for his funeral service in case he passes away during his hunger strike, Dr. Salai Tun Than of Inbyit village in Thayetmyo District added, “We are not fighting anybody but injustice. I will like to spend the twilight days of my life fighting for Burmese people and I will like to do this in the name of God. This is, I think, the only thing I can do for Burma as I am getting old.”
In addition to his hunger strike, Dr. Than also plans to give speeches and distribute brochures on Burma’s referendum, calling on ASEAN to take part in monitoring along with the UN Security Council and Burma’s regime to hold referendum with pro-democracy people including MPs, lawyers and ethnic groups, a source close to the professor revealed late last month.
In 2006 while on his way back to Burma to stage a solo protest against the military regime, Dr. Salai Tun Than was denied getting on board by Thai Airline due to threats on discontinuation of the airline’s service in Burma by SPDC if he was allowed.
The professor who once served 16 months of a seven-year sentence for protest in December, 2001 was released in 2003 from the notorious Insein Prison by the military regime after staging a week-long hunger strike from his bed in the prison hospital, also calls on Burmese people and international organisations for supports.
A retired agronomist, Dr. Salai Tun Than established Myanmar Integrated Rural Development Association (MIRDA) in 1993 with aims of cultivating oranges, coffees and teas for villages in Ngaphe Township of Magwe Division. But MIRDA, which was reportedly never allowed to operate officially in the country, faced various repeated interferences from the junta.
Van Biak Thang
1 April, 2008