Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Myanmar detainees said to stage hunger strike as government hunts protest leaders

Myanmar detainees said to stage hunger strike as government hunts protest leaders

Opponents of Myanmar's military regime continued their struggle from jail Thursday, launching a hunger strike to demand medical treatment for a colleague injured during a rare wave of protests, fellow activists said.
The action, which could not be independently confirmed, came as the junta hunted down pro-democracy activists it blames for spearheading the ongoing protests against rising fuel prices.
Demonstrations triggered by the fuel prices and higher costs for consumer goods began Aug. 19 and have continued almost daily, although they have dwindled from a few hundred people to a few dozen as the junta employed menacing gangs of civilians to rough up protesters. Scores of people have been detained, though several key protest leaders remain at large.
The junta's actions have drawn criticism worldwide, most recently from U.S. politicians, as two senior Senators and the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the State Department to persuade the U.N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on human rights violations.
Senators Mitch McConnell and Dianne Feinstein called for "a strong and meaningful response by our government," while Congressman Tom Lantos decried the junta's "widespread crackdown" on pro-democracy activists.
The State Department said it would work at the U.N. and other forums to pressure the junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other political prisoners and move to restore democracy.
The hunger strike was launched by colleagues of a protester who reportedly suffered a leg injury during his arrest Tuesday, said a fellow activist, who insisted on anonymity for fear of official retaliation.
The injured man, Oh Wai, suffered a broken leg when he was beaten and kicked as he was hauled away by government-hired civilians during a protest at Yangon's busy Hledan junction, the activist said.
He said Oh Wai _ also known as Ye Thein Naing _ was in agony but had not yet been given proper medical treatment, so other activists being held at an official detention center in the Kyaikkasan ground _ Yangon's defunct horse racing course _ staged a hunger strike to demand he be attended to.
Oh Wai is a member of the youth wing of the National League for Democracy, whose party leader, Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, has been under house arrest for 11 years
In Yangon, truckloads of government-directed toughs were parked at key points, the occupants ready to pounce on anyone suspected of trying to spark unrest.
The government has ordered local officials and hotels to be on the lookout for key pro-democracy activists, sending out their names and photos, said a local official who asked not to be named for fear of punishment.
"We have been instructed to inform higher authorities immediately if we sight any of these people in our area," he said, adding that the list of dissidents includes at least one member of the 88 Generation Students group, the most active in carrying out nonviolent anti-government protests. Most of its top members were arrested Aug. 21, two days after staging the first of the current round of protests.
On Thursday, 20 people staged a march against the fuel price hike in Kyaukpadaung, about 460 kilometers (285 miles) northwest of Yangon, other activists said. The protesters were jeered at by a pro-junta mob, and its leaders were ushered into a meeting with the township chairman, who advised them of a ban on gatherings of more than five people before letting them go.
In 1988, public protests over rising rice prices were a prelude to a burst of major demonstrations. The current protests are nowhere near their scale. Those protests, which sought an end to military rule that began in 1962, were violently subdued by the army. The junta held general elections in 1990, but refused to honor the results when Suu Kyi's party won.


Updated : 2021-06-14 13:23 GMT+08:00