Fri 31 Aug 2007
Filed under: Inside Burma,News
Myanmar’s junta has barred the relatives of detained pro-democracy supporters from contacting their loved ones, some of whom are said to be on hunger strike, the families said Friday.
Several of the detained protesters had launched a hunger strike on Thursday, activists said, to demand medical treatment for a colleague whose leg was broken when he was arrested after a protest on August 28.
At least 100 people have been detained following a rare series of peaceful rallies against Myanmar’s military regime which began on August 19 in protest at massive fuel price hikes, according to activists.
Many of the protesters are thought to be in an improvised detention centre at the city’s Kyaikkasan sports grounds, the activists added.
“We haven’t received any more details about the hunger strikes at the Kyaikkasan detention centre,” one activist said.
“No family members have been allowed to meet with them,” the activist added.
Myanmar’s military regime, which for 45 years has ruled the impoverished nation with an iron fist, deals harshly with even the slightest show of dissent.
But the protests have continued to occur in the commercial capital Yangon and in key provincial towns, despite an enormous security deployment of plainclothes police and pro-junta militia.
Activists inside Myanmar and exiled dissidents have expressed concern about the treatment of the detainees. The government has clamped down on any information about the protests or the detainees.
“I also worry for my mother. She’s very old and not in good health,” said Khin Khin Kyaw, 36.
Her mother, 62-year-old housewife San San Myint, was arrested after a protest on August 24 but authorities have given no information on her condition or her whereabouts, the activist said.
“I wonder if she’s also on hunger strike. I have not been able to contact her, although I have tried many times,” Khin Khin Kyaw said.
“She was protesting on behalf of suffering housewives because of the rising commodity prices,” she added.
US President George W. Bush on Thursday strongly condemned the junta’s crackdown and called for the release of those who have been jailed in the country.
He said the activists were merely voicing concerns about recent dramatic increases in the price of fuel “and their concerns should be listened to by the regime rather than silenced through force.”