Junta Arrests 50 People on Martyrs Day
Fifty Burmese pro-democracy activists were arrested on Sunday while marching in Rangoon to pay respect to Burma’s independence heroes on Martyr’s Day.
“At about 11 a.m. this morning, 50 activists were arrested near the Martyrs’ Mausoleum in Rangoon,” said a source close to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). “Not only NLD members but also other activists, who are not NLD members, were among those arrested.”
“On the way to the Martyr Monument, there is a police checkpoint,” said a reporter in Rangoon. “The checkpoint only allows invited people and journalists. Without permission, nobody could enter the monument.”
Rangoon sources said Burmese authorities had tight security around the monument and the Shwedagon Pagoda near the mausoleum. Security forces questioned people were cameras.
The NLD held a Martyr Day ceremony at its headquarter in Rangoon which was monitored by authorities. An estimated 1,000 soldiers, riot police and officers in civilian clothes were stationed near the NLD office.
Sunday was the 62th Martyrs Day in Burma, recognizing the assassination of the nation’s independence hero, Aung San, and his key cabinet members on July 19, 1947.
The arrests in Burma could pose an issue at the Asean Ministerial Meeting now underway in Phuket, Thailand. On Monday, Asean foreign ministers are scheduled to adopt the Terms of Reference of the Asean Human Rights Body.
Since the 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy protestors across the country, Martyrs Day has become a kind of a political confrontation ground between security forces and pro-democracy activists.
Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the daughter of Aung San, is currently on trial in the infamous Insein Prison in Rangoon. She donated food to ill inmates in the prison hospital on Saturday, according to her lawyer.
Irrawaddy correspondent Kyi Wai contributed reporting to this story from Rangoon.