YANGON - PRO-JUNTA thugs broke up a rally by supporters of Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday, detaining several people shouting slogans demanding her release on her 63rd birthday, witnesses said.
They said at least six truckloads of Swan-Arr-Shin, or 'Masters of Force", gang members waded into the crowd outside the dilapidated headquarters of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) in the former capital, Yangon.
'We saw some of them slapping and beating NLD members,' said one witness who saw several people taken away.
Police cordoned off roads leading to the rally where the NLD members had shouted slogans demanding the immediate release of Ms Suu Kyi and more than 1,100 political prisoners believed to be behind bars in the former Burma.
Ms Suu Kyi's confinement in her lakeside home in Yangon was extended in May despite international pleas to the generals to end her latest stretch of detention, which began in May 2003.
The Nobel peace laureate has now been confined for more than 12 of the past 18 years, with her telephone line cut and visitors severely restricted. -- REUTERS