Friday, September 19, 2008

Fourteen activists arrested

Irrawaddy: Lawi Weng
Wed 17 Sep 2008
Filed under: News, Inside Burma

As part of its ongoing campaign to preempt a repeat of last year’s massive monk-led protests, Burma’s ruling junta has arrested 14 activists over the past week, according to the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP).
The AAPP reported that six people were arrested on September 9 in the former capital Rangoon, while another eight activists were taken into custody on September 11 in Meikhtila, Mandalay Division.

A local member of Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), said that one of the eight people arrested in Meikhtila was activist Aung Ko Ko Lwin, the younger brother of prominent activist-monk U Gambira, who played leading role during last year’s protests.

According to the NLD source, five plainclothes security officers raided Aung Ko Ko Lwin’s home last Thursday at 10:30 a.m., arresting him and his wife. A second group of security officers appeared later in the day to conduct a thorough search of Aung Ko Ko Lwin’s residence. His wife was released that evening.

AAPP secretary Tate Naing told The Irrawaddy on Tuesday that six activists who were arrested in Rangoon last week are now being held in Insein Prison. One of the detained activists was identified as U Gambira’s brother-in-law, Ko Moe Htet Hlyan. He was arrested at his home in Rangoon at 7:30 p.m. On September 9.

Tate Naing said that the authorities arrested the 14 democracy activists because of concerns about the possibility of protests like the ones that occurred last September, when tens of thousands of people took part in the largest uprising in nearly 20 years. According to the United Nations, at least 31 people were killed in the subsequent crackdown.

Sources said that security has been stepped up in many areas that were at the centre of last year’s demonstrations, including Burma’s second-largest city, Mandalay; Sittwe Township in Arakan State; Pegu Division; and Pakokku Township in Magwe Division.

In Sittwe, the authorities have imposed a curfew on three monasteries. Around 500 monks have been told that they must not go out at night unless they have permission from the abbots of their monasteries.

A monk in Sittwe told The Irrawaddy on Monday that there has been an increased security presence around Pa Thein, Nan Tha Yar Ma and Sein Than Thu Ka Monasteries. He said that monks are under close scrutiny, and that officials sometimes visit at night to see if any monks have left their monasteries without authorization.

In Pegu Division, the authorities have also deployed nighttime security at monasteries. Mon monasteries in Pegu have been told to inform the authorities if guests stay overnight.

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