NI: Co Down campaigners launch church appeal for Burma prisoner

Members of the Mid Down Group of Amnesty International have launched the latest phase of their campaign for the release of Burma (Burma) prisoner of conscience Khaing Kaung San.

The Group is writing to all churches in the district asking them to support the freedom campaign for Kaung San, who has been sentenced to ten years in jail for his peaceful political activities by Burma’s brutal military dictatorship.
The local campaigners are asking local churches in the area to help promote and distribute campaign postcards to church-goers over the weekend of September 10-11th, which will be sent to the Burma authorities to demonstrate international concern for the prisoner’s case.

“In the Gospels, Jesus clearly speaks about the need to help the prisoner – ‘I was in prison, and you visited me.' It is in that spirit that we appeal to church leaders and church goers throughout the area to help us with this appeal for Khaing Kaung San, a man who should not even be in jail,” says Laura Plummer, Chairperson of Amnesty International Mid Down Group.

“We think that with everybody’s help, we could bombard the Burmese authorities with postcard appeals from county Down and help to secure Kaung San’s release. We think that by working on this one case, we are also helping the many others languishing unjustly in Burma’s jails.”

The local human rights campaigners have been working for the release of the peaceful political activist for three years.
The Amnesty International Mid Down Group had hoped that Khaing Kaung San might have been among those freed by the Burmese military regime earlier this summer, but the campaigners recently learned from Amnesty’s head office that his name was not on the list of those released.

Khaing Kaung San is a young political and human rights campaigner for the Arakanese ethnic minority in Burma. He was sentenced to ten years in jail for his peaceful political activities, after being deported from Thailand where he was a refugee.
The Group’s campaign for Khaing Kaung San has already been endorsed by Down District Council, which has written to the Foreign Office urging them to use diplomatic pressure to help secure the prisoner’s release. A flowerbed in front of the St Patrick’s Centre in Downpatrick was dedicated to the prisoner after the Council voted to back the campaign.

He is one of at least 1,350 political prisoners in Burma, for whom Amnesty International worldwide is working. Burma is ruled with an iron fist by a brutal military dictatorship, which has renamed the country Burma. Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organization and has over 500 members in county Down. The Mid Down Group of Amnesty International meets on the last Tuesday of every month at 8pm in Downpatrick Library.

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