It’s not a happy new year for nine members of the National League for Democracy who were arrested near the Parliament building in Rangoon, Myanmar on Tuesday while demanding for the release of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ashin Mettacara explains the “crime” committed by the activists:
“According to the source, eight men and one woman were arrested rounded up and shoved into trucks by plainclothes police officers approximately 3 p.m. as they marched in front of the old parliament building, holding a banner with the words “Free Aung San Suu Kyi” written on it.”
Photo from the blog of Ashin Mettacara
The Irrawaddy identifies the nine heroic activists: Tun Tun Win, Tun Tun Linn, Pyae Pyae Aung, Win Myint Maung, Min Thein, Kaung Htet Hlaing, Phyo Wai and Yeni Soe and Htet Htet Oo Wai.
Why did they march in the streets? Were they testing the “democratic space” in Myanmar? Probably they were motivated by a patriotic urge to celebrate the 61st anniversary of Burma Independence Day.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) issued a statement regarding the incident:
“Today, the National League for Democracy party held a ceremony to mark the 61st anniversary of Burma Independence Day at their headquarters. After the event, nine NLD Youth members marched from NLD headquarters to Sanchaung Township, Rangoon, holding photographs and placards with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's image. They called for the release of all political prisoners, and demanded national reconciliation.
“When they arrived at the public square in Sanchaung Township, they were arrested by members of the Swan Arr Shin (People’s Power Force) the regime's hired thugs, and brutally beaten. Their whereabouts are now unknown.”
Mizzima reports that National League for Democracy regularly conducts meetings on Tuesday to discuss the country’s political situation:
“The NLD regularly conducts meetings on Tuesday to discuss current and contemporary politics of Burma. Today's discussions were led by party executive member Khin Maung Swe, who was released recently after serving a long prison term.
“The eyewitness, who had also attended the meeting, said, security police, beat the peaceful protesters before taking them away to unknown location.”
Did the police really think the nine activists who marched in the streets pose a threat to the national security? Well, it’s not surprising if we take note that in recent months, other Burmese nationals were jailed even if they weren’t involved in any political activities. Remember the cyclone refugees who were arrested for complaining about their suffering?