JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Archbishop Desmond Tutu threw his support behind anti-government demonstrations in Myanmar on Tuesday and said the protesters walked in the footsteps of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement.
Thousands of Buddhist monks have taken to the streets in the capital Yangon to demand democracy in defiance of a military junta. They are the biggest political protests in Myanmar since a student-led uprising was crushed 20 years ago.
“It is so like the rolling mass action that eventually toppled apartheid,” the Nobel peace laureate said in a statement released in Cape Town.
“We admire our brave sisters and brothers in Burma/Myanmar and want them to know that we support their peaceful protests to end a vicious rule of oppression and injustice ... Victory is assured. They are on the winning side, the side of freedom, justice and democracy,” Tutu said.
He called on the United Nations and international community to press Myanmar’s junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, also a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and all political detainees, and allow the establishment of democracy in the southeast Asian nation.
Tutu was one of the most prominent opponents of white minority rule in South Africa during the last decade of apartheid, which ended in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela as president of a multiracial democracy.
The Anglican cleric won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.