Arakan Youths Arrested

Irrawaddy news, Sept 23, 2009

Sixteen ethnic Arakan youths in Rangoon and Arakan State’s capital, Sittwe, were arrested by Burmese authorities recently, according to sources in Bangladesh.

Khaing Mrat Kyaw, an editor at the Dhaka-based Narinjara News agency, said the 16 youths were arrested at different locations. Seven were arrested in Rangoon, and others were arrested in Sittwe, the capital of Arakan State.

“Special police from Rangoon came to Sittwe to arrest the youths,” he said.

The Burmese authorities have reportedly accused them of links to an exiled Arakan political movement, the All Arakan Students’ and Youths’ Congress (AASYC), which is based in Mae Sot on the Thai-Burmese border, sources said.

The Irrawaddy on Wednesday contacted the AASYC but the organization refused to comment on the arrests.

Aye Thar Aung, Rangoon-based Arakanese politician who is the secretary of the Committee Representing the People’s Parliament, said, “By arresting young people, the junta is suppressing their potential for growth. The military authority sometime accuses them of involvement in bombs or illegal activities without evidence. I am worried about the fairness in those cases.”

The arrests followed the junta’s amnesty of 7,114 prisoners this week, including 128 political prisoners.

About a dozen democracy activists were also arrested recently in Mandalay Division. Many observers believe the continued arrest of activists is an attempt to discourage demonstrations on the second anniversary of the Saffron Revolution in September.

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