Friday, July 31, 2009

26 Dissidents Detained in Rangoon: AAPP

The Irrawaddy News

The Burmese military authorities arrested 26 pro-democracy activists on Thursday night in a move to pre-empt any public outrage concerning the postponement of a verdict against Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, said a Burmese human rights group.

Tate Naing, secretary of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), a Burmese human rights group based on the Thai-Burmese border, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that Burmese authorities had arrested 26 dissidents since Thursday evening.

“We have learned that 28 people were arrested and that two activists among them were later released,” he said. “But the other 26 remain under arrest. Most of them are former political prisoners.”

The following morning (Friday), the Burmese judiciary postponed the verdict on Suu Kyi to August 11.

Later that day, Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Nyan Win, said at a press conference at the headquarters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) that the Rangoon Northern District Court had said that it decided to postpone the verdict because it is “reviewing the law.”

Among the 28 who were allegedly arrested during the overnight operation are elected representatives from the 1990 elections, including Tha Aung from Myothit Township and Nyunt Hlaing from Aunglan Township, as well as a well-known woman activist, Naw Ohn Hla.

Tate Naing said Naw Ohn Hla and Nyunt Hlaing were later released. However, he added that the number of arrests could rise as tensions increase among Suu Kyi’s supporters and security forces around Insein Prison, where the opposition leader has been detained since May 14.

“These arbitrary arrests show that the junta is scared of public outrage over the unjust trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi,” Tate Naing said.

The detention of the 26 dissidents adds to the more than 2,100 political prisoners already being held in Burma’s prisons. According to AAPP and other human rights groups, the number of political prisoners in Burma has doubled in the last two years.

The arrests came following calls from the international community for the junta to release Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners in Burma.

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