Eight Democracy Activists Arrested


Irrawaddy news, Sept 17, 2009

Eight democracy activists including one Buddhist monk in Myingyan Township in Mandalay were detained by Burmese military authorities on Wednesday, according to local sources. 

A friend of a detainee said that the authorities appeared at the homes of those arrested about 3 am and took them into custody.

The source said Myo Han, Wint Thu, Hla Myo Kyaw, Aung Myo Lat, Soe Ya Zar Phyo, Kyi Soe, one unidentified civilian and one unidentified monk were arrested.

The mother of Wint Thu said, “They came and searched our home about 2:30 am. My son wasn’t here, but later I heard he had been arrested.”

The detainees were taken to Mandalay, sources said. Sources believe the authorities made the arrests in an effort to disrupt planned demonstrations.

Special Police have been mobilized at various Myingyan monasteries and at youth gatherings in the township in recent days, sources said.

Burmese authorities have also increased security in Mandalay and Rangoon, and several other cities, as the Saffron Revolution’s two-year anniversary nears in September. Security forces have been deployed at strategic road locations and near monasteries and pagodas.

Last week in Pokokku, a journalist and two unidentified civilians were detained by the authorities while they attempted to interview monks in a monastery. Pokokku was a center of monk-led demonstrations in 2007.

The regime continues to regard monks with suspicion, and they have been restricted from traveling abroad and inside Burma without special permission.

Meanwhile, the Thailand-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners-Burma (AAPP) reported that one monk from Rangoon and three from Magway Division were arrested in August.

According to the AAPP, of Burma’s 2,211 political prisoners, 237 are monks. According to official data, there are more than 400,000 monks in Burma. The monastic community has always played an important role in social and political affairs, often in opposition to oppressive regimes.

Ashin Gambira, one of the prominent Buddhist monk leaders of the 2007 demonstrations, is currently serving a 63-year prison sentence in Kalay Prison, located in a remote area of Sagaing Division.

Bo Kyi, the AAPP joint-secretary, said an estimated 100 political prisoners are in poor health and receive inadequate medical treatment.

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