Friday, 8 August 2008

Protests in Arakan state's Taungup, 20 arrested

By Phanida

Chiang Mai (Mizzima)– Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the '8.8.88' uprising today, at least 20 youths in Taungup town in Burma's Arakan state were arrested after they took to the streets and began marching in protest.

The protesters, mainly youths from Nat Maw village, were whisked away by the police as they marched across Taungup township police station, sources said.

Thein Naing, Joint Secretary of the Taungup Township National League for Democracy, Burma's main opposition party, told Mizzima that about 25 people from Nat Maw village on Friday marched along the streets of Taungup town.

"They begun marching from Chaung Kauk ward and came along Ottama street but when they arrived in front of the township police station, the road was blocked with barbed wire barricades. They were taken away by the authorities," Thein Naing said.

Villagers of Nat Maw, about three miles from Taungup town, on Thursday held a similar protest march joined by a larger crowd of nearly 200 people.

On Thursday, about 200 villagers of Nat Maw held a commemoration service on the eve of the 20th anniversary of '8.8.88' protests at two Buddhist monasteries and held a brief demonstration in front of the monasteries.

"About 200 students, and youths including youth members of the NLD offered 'Swan' to the monks in commemoration of fallen comrades and held a brief demonstration in front of the monasteries," Thein Naing said.

While it was not clear, how the demonstrations were held on Thursday, so far there are no reports of any arrest related to the event.

Sources said, authorities had tightened security, with security personnel seen everywhere in and around Taungup town.

Thein Naing said, Burmese Army LIB 544 based in Taungup had taken charge of security and police had blocked the road as well as the water way.

"Soldiers in full battle gear are seen every where in the town. I think I saw at least 60 of them," Thein Naing said.

Taungup town is about 250 miles northwest of Rangoon, Burma's former capital.

Meanwhile, in Rangoon, sources said heavy security presence is felt, with soldiers seen everywhere in important street junctions and squares including Sule Pagoda square in the heart of the city, and Shwe Dagon Pagoda, the holiest shrine of the country.

Observers believe the heavy security presence is preventive measures by the junta to stop any movement or protests by activists in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of popular protests in August 8, 2008, which was brutally suppressed by killing at least 3000 people.

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