Six people were arrested when protesters clashed with
riot police in Prome, Pegu Division, on Thursday and organizers are
keen to avoid any similar altercation.
“We will continue our demonstration so all people can
be involved peacefully by, for example, releasing hot air balloons
with a letter demanding electricity on a 24-hour basis,”
Rangoon-based protester Han Win Aung told The Irrawaddy on
He said that people could still take part in the
popular protest by lighting candles in their homes to express their
desire for steady power supplies.
After three consecutive days of demonstrations, a
total of 3,000 people joined the latest episode which started at
7:30pm on Thursday at Sule Pagoda in the very center of Rangoon.
The demonstrations against blackouts started in
Mandalay, Burma’s second largest city, where people have been
heading out after dark holding candles since May 20. Similar marches
then spread to Rangoon, Prome and Bago.
“We arranged this type of demonstration because we
want the people to be safe and sound,” added Han Win Aung. “Besides,
it will be easier for people to participate and more can join the
Prome-based organizer Ye Htin Kyaw said, “We will
issue a statement calling for the resignation of the Minister of
Electric Power-1, which highlights his remarks regarding selling
surplus electricity to China.”
He added that the street demonstrations have been
quite dangerous for local people who had their route blocked by riot
police and were then beaten up during Thursday’s protest.
“To avoid this situation, a signature campaign is
planned to start at the next demonstration,” said Ye Htin Kyaw.
During the demonstration in Prome on 24 May, police
arrested six activists but they were subsequently bailed. However,
the authorities tried to charge them under Peaceful Protest Law of
Dec. 4, 2011.
The judge rejected the police attempt to file charges
due to the lack of legal justification in this case, said Ye Htin
Kyaw, adding that demonstrators who were manhandled may instead file
complaints against the officers involved.
He said that the local authorities explained that in
an effort to solve the problem of power shortages, the government
has bought an electric turbine that can produce 500 Kilo-Volt-Amps