About 200 activists, including a large number of ethnic Kachins and members of civil society groups, gathered in Rangoon at 4am this morning to head out for Naypyidaw when police arrived to stop the group.
According to the officials, the activists didn’t have permission to hold a rally in accordance with the Peaceful Assembly and Procession Law, which stipulates that a permit is needed to stage a demonstration.
Authorities turned down requests from the Kachin Peace Network and several other NGOs seeking requests to rally in support of the International Day of Peace in Naypyidaw on Friday.
Sporting blue headbands and holding up signs with “Stop Civil War”, the demonstrators then marched around several points in Rangoon and confronted authorities who attempted to disperse the crowd. The crowd then left to join a rally organised by Generation Wave and local NGOs.
“You know this is not officially permitted – I just want to remind you this,” said one unnamed police officer to the group of protestors as the moved through downtown Rangoon near city hall.
In a statement released by the Karen National Union on Friday, the group called for a one-day ceasefire to mark the International Day of Peace and demanded that the government end military operations in Kachin state. “We call on the administration of President Thein Sein and the Burma Army to immediately halt all military operations in Kachin State on the International Day of Peace which will be a step towards permanent ceasefire in the whole of Burma,” read the statement.