19 June 2008, Chiang Mai – The Burmese military junta is not taking chances on Aung San Suu Kyi's 63rd birthday. Even after the National League for Democracy (NLD) leader's birthday celebrations came to a conclusion, security around the party headquarters remained tight.
The authorities deployed about 1,000 policemen, riot police, 'Union Solidarity and Development Association' (USDA) and 'Swanahshin' members around the party headquarters this morning. And then some of them forcibly entered the party office and arrested a monk and three party members. Nevertheless the party continued the function as planned and successfully concluded it at about 2 p.m. But the security cordon is still in place.
"The authorities have not eased the security cordon. There are still over 1,000 security personnel deployed around our party office. Many USDA members, police and 'Swanahshin' members are stationed near Shwedagon pagoda and Oak Street. Riot police personnel were deployed at the Home Ministry's prayer hall near Shwedagon pagoda with about 10 Toyota Dyna light trucks. Many heavy trucks are kept out of sight near Shwedagon pagoda," a NLD Youth wing member said.
The NLD headquarters was temporarily closed to avoid confrontation with the authorities.
Similarly security was beefed up in many key places in Rangoon such as Town Hall, Shwegondaing junction, Myenigone junction and Hledan junction, a local resident said.
"Each security unit comprised of three personnel. Convoys of police cars are patrolling the city to scare away the people. There is a heavy security cordon near Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's residence where she is under house arrest," an eyewitness said.
The vehicles carrying about 30 police personnel armed with batons and shields are patrolling the city while security personnel in mufti are monitoring the place near Traders' Hotel, the local resident said.
USDA members forcibly entered the party headquarters and arrested NLD Youth members this morning.
"They entered the office and took away our party members. The Dyna light trucks screeched to a halt in front of the party headquarters and took away party members who were chanting for the well being of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Party members from some townships took refuge in the party office. The authorities arrested and took away some youth members who were in charge of security duty at the party headquarters," an eyewitness.
The birthday party celebrations included giving educational stipend to family members of political prisoners at the function attended by over 700 people. The party gave Kyat 30,000 each and stationery to a total of 74 students.
But the alms offering programme failed as the five monks invited from 'Pantita Yarma monestary' (Shwe taungone Sasana Yeiktha) could not come to the party office in time as junta officials pressured them not to go.