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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2620

Burma: Sporadic Protests Continues, Despite Arrests and Intimidation by the Junta

Rangoon, 23 August, (Asiantribune.com): Despite of threats, intimidation and arrests of pro-democracy activists by Burma’s military regime, hundreds of protesters gathered anyway on Wednesday to denounce the rising cost of living and the sudden increase of the fuel price.

About 300 protesters walked from the outskirts of the Burma’s former capital Rangon, encouraging onlookers to join them, while plainclothes police officers watched from a distance, witnesses said on condition of anonymity, citing fears of reprisals.

The demonstrators cut their march short and scattered, as unidentified men from a mob of junta supporters attacked them with heavy sticks and took at least six protesters away in cars, the witnesses said. It was unclear where the six were taken.

What was apparently planned as another protest in the afternoon in a busy downtown area near Sule Pagoda was stymied when plainclothes security personnel snatched at least three known activists and hustled them away in the waiting automobiles, witnesses said.Naw Ohn Hla arrested on the second dayNaw Ohn Hla arrested on the second day

In the meantime, six of the protest leaders, including former National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition member Naw Ohn Hla, once a close aide to democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, were arrested and about 20 people were injured by pro-government thugs, eyewitnesses said.

Than Htut Maung was also arrested in downtown Rangoon near the Sule Pagoda on Wednesday afternoon for carrying an anti-inflation poster. A mass demonstration planned on Sule Pagoda Road failed to materialize Wednesday afternoon after security personnel moved into the area in force. Women activists marchingWomen activists marching

On 15 August, the junta doubled benzene, diesel and compressed natural gas prices at state-run petrol stations, adding to the already rampant inflation.

The opposition National League foe Democracy and 88 Generation group on Monday 20 August warned the government that unless the price hike was reversed, protests were "imminent." A woman activist addressingA woman activist addressing

In the meantime, Burma government-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper while clarifying the Government’s need for the crackdown said, “All in all, their agitation to cause civil unrest was aimed at undermining peace and security of the state."

Despite Burmese junta made a meek attempt to justify the crackdown on the pro-democracy activists, international community has begun to vociferously condemn the military regime for arresting and incarcerating the protestors.

Another section of the pro-democracy protestersAnother section of the pro-democracy protesters

Commenting on the arrests of a number of Burmese democracy activists on Tuesday night, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Meg Munn said:

“The British Government condemns the detention of a number of Burma's '1988 Generation' student leaders on the evening of 21/22 August. Those detained, and their colleagues, have exercised their right to peaceful protest at the harsh economic burdens being heaped on the long-suffering Burmese people. We support their call for the restoration of democracy and genuine political dialogue. We urge the Burmese government to free them immediately.”

A section of the supporters to the protest marchA section of the supporters to the protest march

Also the regional legislators had called for immediate release of peaceful protestors in Burma, and they condemned violence used by junta

In a statement, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus (AIPMC) had urged the military rulers of Myanmar to immediately release Burmese student leaders and human rights activists who have been arrested in Yangon over the last three days during peaceful protests against the increase of petrol prices in the country.

The statement pointed out that the arrests clearly indicate that the human rights situation in Myanmar continues to deteriorate and that the military junta continues to act with disregard to regional hopes for a peaceful democratic transition of the country’s leadership.

The statement further added:

“ASEAN, having recently agreed in principle to form a regional human rights body, must take it upon them to urge Myanmar’s military leaders to respect the rights of its citizens and to immediately cease its acts of violence against those demanding justice and fair treatment.

“It is reported that the peaceful protests against the sudden hike of fuel prices in Myanmar began in Yangon on Sunday, August 19. Numerous Burmese citizens have been arrested since and reports have surfaced of the junta’s use of violent means to suppress these expressions of displeasure with the governance of the county.

“AIPMC is extremely concerned that the military junta’s handling of these peaceful protests may result in similar bloody scenes of the 1988 pro-democracy uprising in Myanmar that saw the killing of many innocent lives.”

- Asian Tribune –

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