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Demonstrators in Singapore light candles to pray for Suu Kyi's release.

SINGAPORE, May 31 Kyodo

About 300 people, including Myanmar nationals, staged a peaceful demonstration at a park in Singapore's central business district on Sunday to call for the release of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Some of the protestors carried placards emblazoned with slogans demanding release of the 63-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who is now on trial and facing a prison sentence.

Candles were also lighted up in the shape of the words ''Free DASS'' (Daw Aung San Suu Kyi) and one minute of silence was observed to pray for her freedom.

The event was organized by a Singapore human rights advocacy group known as Maruah, which is based on a Malay word for dignity, but many Myanmar citizens working or studying in the city-state also turned up.

Braema Mathi, who heads Maruah, said the event was also being simultaneously held in several other member countries of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to give support to Suu Kyi.

Suu Kyi stands accused of violating her home restriction order by allowing an American citizen to stay in her home for two days after he swam across a lake to reach it.

Speaking to the crowd, Braema said ASEAN ''leaders must do more than just gently talk to the Myanmar government.''

Citing data showing considerable volume of trade between Myanmar and several ASEAN countries, she said ASEAN could use trade as a leverage to pressure the Myanmar government.

One of those at the demonstration was a 29-year-old Myanmar draftsman who has been working in Singapore for the past year. ''I came to the demonstration because I want to pray for her release. This is all we can do.''

The event was held at Speakers' Corner, a small park in the central business district, which is the only place where protests are allowed in Singapore, as the government frowns on street demonstrations.

As demonstrations at Speakers' Corner are restricted to Singaporeans and foreigners who have permanent resident status, the participants from Myanmar were asked by the organizer to stay outside the cordoned area on the grass.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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