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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, launching a hunger strike to demand medical treatment for a colleague injured during a rare wave of protests, fellow activists said.
The hunger strike launched Thursday, which could not be independently confirmed, came as the junta hunted down pro-democracy activists it blames for spearheading the continuing protests against rising fuel prices.
In Washington, U.S. President George W. Bush condemned Myanmar's ruling military junta for the arrests, saying that the activists' "concerns should be listened to by the regime rather than silenced through force."
He said the generals "should heed the international calls to release these activists immediately and stop its intimidation of those Burmese citizens who are promoting democracy and human rights."
Demonstrations triggered by rising prices for fuel and consumer goods began Aug. 19 and have continued almost daily, although their numbers have dwindled since pro-government civilians began beating up protestors. Scores of people have been detained, though several key protest leaders remain at large.
The hunger strike was to press authorities to provide medical care for a protester whose leg was broken by pro-government thugs during a protest Tuesday, said a fellow activist, who insisted on anonymity for fear of official retaliation.
He said the injured man Oh Wai _ also known as Ye Thein Naing _ was in agony but had not yet been given proper medical treatment. Oh Wai and the hunger strikers are held at a detention center in Yangon.
Oh Wai is a member of the youth wing of the National League for Democracy, whose party leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has been under house arrest for 11 years
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.
The State Department said it would work at the U.N. and other forums to pressure the junta to release Suu Kyi and other political prisoners and move to restore democracy.
In Yangon, truckloads of government-directed civilians were parked at key points on Thursday, the occupants ready to pounce on anyone suspected of trying to spark unrest.
The government also 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.
The official said 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 protested in Kyaukpadaung, about 460 kilometers (285 miles) northwest of Yangon, other activists said.
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 : 2021-05-12 20:31 GMT+08:00