Myanmar detains dozens of opposition members

Author: Associated Press

The arrests came after riot police set up barricades around the Martyr’s
Mausoleum where the official ceremony took place to commemorate the death of
Gen. Aung San, the country’s independence hero.

At least 50 members of the opposition National League for Democracy party were
walking in small groups when they were arrested, witnesses said on condition
of anonymity for fear of official reprisal.

It was not immediately clear why police detained them.

Some of the NLD members had been attending a ceremony at party headquarters to
mark Gen. Aung San’s death 62 years ago, while others had been at the
official commemoration.

“Some members were roughly taken into trucks, and those who ran away were
chased,” a witness said. Some who ran onto public buses were dragged out and
taken away.

Gen. Aung San and other government leaders were assassinated by gunmen during
a Cabinet meeting on July 19, 1947, shortly after Britain granted
independence to the Southeast Asian colony.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi marked the anniversary of her
father’s death inside Yangon’s Insein prison. She is on trial on charges of
violating the terms of her house arrest by giving shelter to an uninvited
American man who swam to her lakeside home in May.

If convicted, she faces up to five years in prison. Her trial is to resume

Earlier today, hundreds of riot police erected barricades secured with barbed
wire and blocked streets leading to the Martyr’s Mausoleum. More than two
dozen trucks carrying riot police and four prison vans were parked near the
monument, located near the famed Shwedagon pagoda.

Flags were flown at half-staff at the mausoleum as officials placed flowers at
the tomb, and families of the slain leaders joined the tightly guarded
wreath-laying ceremony.

Suu Kyi, 64, who used to attend the official ceremony, was absent for a sixth
consecutive year and instead marked the day by donating food to patients at
the hospital inside the prison, said Nyan Win, a spokesman for her party.

Martyr’s Day was an important event on Myanmar’s calendar for years, but has
been gradually downgraded as Suu Kyi has become more popular, particularly
since a 1988 pro-democracy uprising that was crushed by the junta.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.

Suu Kyi has been under detention for 14 of the past 20 years. Her opposition
party won national elections in 1990, but Myanmar’s generals refused to
relinquish power.

Her trial has drawn condemnation from the international community and her
supporters within Myanmar, who worry that the ruling junta has found an
excuse to keep her detained through elections planned for next year.

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