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Myanmar dissidents go on hunger strike

Myanmar dissidents go on hunger strike

Some dissidents arrested in a fierce crackdown on protests in military-ruled Myanmar have gone on hunger strike over police refusal to treat a protester with a broken leg, an activist said yesterday.
Prominent democracy campaigner Suu Suu Nway, roughed up when a pro-junta gang broke up a march on August 28, said fellow demonstrator Ye Thein Naing had been beaten and punched, and then had his leg broken when he was pushed off a truck.
He was being held with 60 others at a police camp in Yangon, the commercial capital, said Suu Suu Nway, who narrowly escaped arrest and has gone into hiding.
"I heard him shout in pain," she told Reuters by telephone. "He still has not had his broken leg plastered, so some decided to stage a hunger strike."
The opposition National League for Democracy says more than 100 people have been detained in one of the harshest crackdowns in the former Burma since a mass uprising in 1988 led by students and Buddhist monks.
Most of the leaders of 1988 protests, including Min Ko Naing, the second most influential dissident after detained Nobel laureate and NLD chief Aung San Suu Kyi, are behind bars.
The generals are tightening the net on those still at large.
Buses to the second city of Mandalay and Karen state on the Thai border were being stopped and searched, travelers said.
After the 1988 crackdown, in which as many as 3,000 people were believed killed, thousands of students and democracy activists fled to Thailand - to this day the epicenter of an exile campaign against 45 years of unbroken military rule.
Police and plainclothes government agents have also launched a Yangon-wide manhunt for known dissidents, raiding their homes and distributing their photographs to hotels, guesthouses, police stations and government offices.
One woman on the wanted list, Ma Nilar - another member of the so-called "88 Generation Students Group" - had been forced to abandon her four-month-old baby daughter and go into hiding, a friend told Reuters.
"She has been on the run since they started the arrests. She had to leave her daughter 'Whitey' with her mother-in-law," the friend said. "The old lady has been bottle-feeding the baby since her mother fled."
Ma Nilar's husband is Ko Jimmy, one of 12 leading dissident rounded up with Min Ko Naing. They are in Yangon's notorious Insein prison facing sedition charges that could see them sentenced to up to 20 years in jail.
The crackdown has been severely criticized by the United States and Europe, and registered "concern" on the radar of Myanmar's southeast Asian neighbors, who have always favored "constructive engagement" over Western-style sanctions.
China, the closest natural gas-rich Myanmar has to a friend, has remained silent.
There were no reports of protests yesterday, although NLD sources said 20 party members had marched the previous day in Kyaukpadaung, 650 kilometers northwest of Yangon.
"The onlookers cheered but they didn't join in," one witness said. There were no arrests.
The world's largest rice exporter when it won independence from Britain in 1948, Myanmar is now one of Asia's poorest countries.


Updated : 2021-03-01 05:41 GMT+08:00