Thursday, 2 October 2008

Swan Ahr Shin and Police Support Sittwe Monks


(Narinjara)-Members of Swan Ahr Shin, the police, and the riot police have supported the anti-government movement led by monks in Sittwe because they are suffering the same difficulties in their daily lives, said monk leader Rakhaputta in Sittwe.

He said, "We received not only the people's support, but also the support of members of Swan Ahr Shin, riot police, and the police force for our movement at present, because they are unable to tolerate the economic hardship of their daily lives under the current military government."

People in Sittwe typically support the monk led demonstrations against the military government, but members of Swan Ahr Shin and riot police have never in the past supported the anti-government demonstrations.

Rakhaputta, who is now leading monks in Sittwe, said yesterday over the phone, "Our movement against the military government is still going on without any disturbances by the authorities because we received information from officials from those groups about how the authority plans to crack down on our movement." (this is what I call infiltrating the enemy)

He added that members of Swan Ahr Shin are also members of the public and they are suffering like everyone else. "They are in the same boat, so they understand the current situation of Burma and support our movement," he said.

Swan Ahr Shin was formed by the government with retired soldiers and police, local supporters of the government, and criminals, in order to attack people and monks when they lead anti-government activities anywhere in Burma.

During last year's Saffron Revolution, members of Swan Ahr Shin along with the police and riot police attacked many democratic and human rights activists. The authority placed Swan Ahr Shin at the forefront of the crackdown on the democracy movement in Burma.

The monk said, "You can see there have not been activities by Swan Ahr Shin this year, because they do not want to support the government again. In Sittwe, there are some members of Swan Ahr Shin but they are very close with the monks right now because they understand why monks are attempting to stage demonstrations as well as who the demonstrations are for."

The authority is still beefing up security in Sittwe after the anniversary of the Saffron Revolution has passed because there are rumors that monks in Sittwe are secretly preparing to stage demonstrations to demand the release of all monks who were detained after last year's protests.

Living under duress in Kachin State

by Shyamal Sarkar - KNG
30 September 2008

The Burmese military junta seems to have singled out Kachin State for some harsh treatment, one reason for which could be the daring level of dissidence among the student community, which has been repeatedly troubling the regime through poster campaigns, right under the very noses of junta officials.

The dissident students owing allegiance to the All Kachin Students Union (AKSU) have on a number of occasions in the past year put up posters demanding the ouster of the military dictators, freeing political prisoners, demanding a tripartite dialogue, putting a halt to environment unfriendly projects in the state, self determination rights among other demands, which are not new. Not just posters, activists are known to take to the streets either early in the morning or late at night and spray paint walls of government buildings, schools, colleges, markets and other key places making the same demands. The posters were put up despite the high alert in the township sounded by the junta since August.

The periodic movement carried out with precision has had junta officials including the police running from pillar to post trying to tear down the posters or white washing the spray painted walls, lest residents start getting ideas and join the angry students in their campaign against the junta.

The posting of a new Commander in the Northern Command, Maj-Gen Soe Win, who has taken charge of Kachin State, seems to have been done with a brief from the junta brass to come down on dissident activity with a heavy hand and keep people of the state on a leash.

He has gone about his mission with gusto, not uncommon among enthusiastic military officers of the regime. In the wake of students pasting anti-regime posters to denounce the 20th anniversary of the coup in the country on September 18, the Commander imposed night curfew in Myitkyina the capital of Kachin State from 10 p.m. to teach people a lesson. Then the harassment followed.

The police began rounding up people on the streets even before 10 p.m. before the curfew came into force. The idea was to create panic among people. To further hurt residents, the arrested began to be fined heavily to the tune of Kyat 10,000, equivalent to US $ 8. Shops were ordered to down shutters by 9 p.m. The police was taken to task by the Commander because they were unable to prevent activists from putting up posters.

In an effort to nab dissidents and check their activities the Military Affairs Security Unit (Sa-Ya-Pha) was told by the Commander to offer a reward of 100,000 Kyat equivalent to US $ 84 to anyone providing information about activists.

The form of harassment since the new Commander took over has been varied, but all are intent to keep people in the state under the thumb of the junta.

For instance, of a sudden junta officials began searching guest houses and hotels and started making arbitrary arrests of people they suspected. The police in Myitkyina began checking hotels which did not report overnight guests to the authorities. The hotels which allow prostitutes to operate came especially under the scanner. Prostitutes and guests were hauled away to police stations charged and detained. The prostitutes were released later. Even couples dating in parks or on roadsides were not spared.

People in Kachin state as such have been living on the edge. Suddenly the junta authorities decided that subscribers would have to shell out the costs of changing numbers of landline telephones in Myitkyina. The order issued stated that telephones starting with the code number 25 would be changed to 20 and subscribers would have to pay over 550,000 Kyat equivalent to US $ 464 each by September 30 to the State Telecommunication Office in the township.

The reason behind the change in number had to do with disruptions on landline telephones starting with the code number 25 being operated with China-made Telephone Service Operating Machines. These had to be replaced with a new Israel manufactured Telephone Service Operating Machines. Normally, the expense ought to be borne by the telephone department but here subscribers were fleeced, in all probability to save on government revenue or pocket the funds meant for the change.

From whichever angle one views the activities of the junta in Kachin State it is apparent that the people are at the receiving end and left holding the wrong end of the stick.

The Township Municipal Office in Myitkyina has been collecting increasing municipal taxes from residents but they are not getting the desired services whereas army officials do. While residents and shops and establishment owners pay enhanced tax for garbage collection, the civic body accords priority to the junta's Northern Command military headquarters in the township. Despite increased taxes the municipality has done nothing to enhance its fleet of garbage trucks. Only three trucks are in working condition.

Laws are flexible and used to suit the needs of the junta authorities. Without notice traffic police began seizing Chinese manufactured motorcycle rickshaws (three wheelers) called the Tong-bee-car in Myitkyina. All this while the traffic police have been levying a charge of 3,000 Kyat equivalent to US $ 2.5 on drivers operating unlicensed three wheelers. In a town where all three wheelers are unlicensed the very act of seizing them becomes meaningless because there are no provisions to provide a license.

It is such repression that has students up in arms and recently led to an instance where a traffic policeman was thrashed by irate people when the police was seizing unlicensed motorcycles in Myitkyina. The Township Land Transportation Department (Ka-Nya-Na) announced it would issue license for motorcycles till the end of October. But most unlicensed motorcycle owners are not even remotely interested because of the high fees pegged by the junta.

The high handedness of the junta continues in Kachin State despite the areas being under the control of the Kachin Independence Organisation (KIO), which boasts an armed wing. The KIO, which has a ceasefire agreement with the junta, has always appeased the regime given the business ventures it operates courtesy the regime and the wealth it enjoys. Of late, after supporting the junta's referendum on the draft constitution, the KIO seems to be toeing the regime's line even more vehemently.

Burma’s ethnic Kachin woman gang raped, no action yet

Despite international pressure and condemnation, the Burmese military junta is still avoiding taking action against rapists in Kachin State, northern Burma.

There was an instance of rape again in Kachin State in Loiije Township. A married woman, Sumlut Roi Ji (33) was gang raped by two Burmese construction workers, U Thein Tun Lyin (40) and U Thein Myint Swe (29) from Loije on September 21. But no action has been taken yet, a resident said.

According to a resident, Sumlut Roi Ji, who has a four-year old child, was going back home from their farm which is on the way from Bhamo to Loije. The workers followed Sumlut Roi Ji and gang raped her near Win Hkam village.

The two workers threatened Sumlut Roi Ji with a knife and gagged her. The incident occurred at around 3 pm, a resident added.

That evening, after the gang rape, the couple went to the junta’s Loije police station to register a complaint. The police arrested the rapists on September 22 and detained them at the Loije police station, a resident close to Sumlut Roi Ji told KNG.

Meanwhile, Sumlut Roi Ji's family is upset because though two weeks have passed the authorities still have not taken any action on the rapists. They feel the police are trying to hush up the case, he added.

However, now Loije's Kachin Literature and Culture organization has sent a letter to the authorities in Kachin State to take action on the rapists.

According to a resident, this is the first instance of the gang rape in Loije. Residents have urged the authorities to ensure that there is no recurrence.

On July 27, a Kachin schoolgirl, Nhkum Hkawn Din (15) was gang raped and killed by Burmese Army soldiers in Bhamo District in Kachin State, northern Burma.

Bus drivers’ licences revoked by Dala authorities

Oct 1, 2008 (DVB)–Authorities in Rangoon’s Dala township have revoked the licences of private bus drivers whom they accuse of suspending their services to mark Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday on 19 June.

The move has affected main and back-up drivers of air-conditioned buses on the Twante-Rangoon route.

Relatives of the drivers told DVB that they had only decided to suspend their services temporarily because the poor conditions of the roads meant that they could not make any profit from the 200-kyat bus fare per passenger.

But authorities became suspicious because the day they suspended the Rangoon-Twante service coincided with the birthday of detained pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

The service was eventually resumed after three months due to popular demand.

But the drivers' licences have still not been returned to them, making it difficult for them to earn a living.

"Their driving licences have been confiscated completely. They are not allowed to make a living from it," a relative said.

The bus fare was recently raised to 300 kyat due to the poor condition of the roads but there were no complaints from passengers, who understood the difficulties for drivers.

"The road to Twante is full of potholes and the journey is arduous,” the relative said.

“When Twante market caught fire recently, fire engines had to come from Rangoon but by the time they got here the market had burnt down completely."

There are around 30 private buses operating on the Rangoon-Twante route.

Reporting by Nam Kham Kaew

NLD youth member reported dead in custody - Aung Moe Lwin

Oct 1, 2008 (DVB)–Aung Moe Lwin, a 36-year-old youth member of the National League for Democracy in Natmauk township, Magwe division, is said to have died in detention, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

His family has been informed of his death.

Aung Moe Lwin went to Rangoon last year for training before the Saffron Revolution in September and stayed at Maggin monastery, where became friendly with the monks and helped look after AIDS patients.

He stayed with the monks during the demonstrations up until the monastery was sealed off and was interviewed about the arrests and beatings of monks in the crackdown.

When he suddenly disappeared from South Dagon at the beginning of August, people assumed he had gone to another monastery, as he had made friends with monks from other monasteries and stayed with them on previous occasions.

It did not become clear that Aung Moe Lwin had been arrested until a fellow detainee who had been released said that he had seen him being tortured in prison and that he was in a serious condition.

Once his arrest and detention was made public, his family expected that he would be transferred to Insein prison where they could come and visit him.

But five days ago, Aung Moe Lwin’s brother in Kyaukpadaung received a telephone call from an unnamed person who informed him that Aung Moe Lwin and another person from Meikhtila had died from an ‘over-zealous hand’ during interrogation.

On hearing this, Aung Moe Lwin’s parents went to the Rangoon divisional office where their son was last known to have been held, but they were told by an official that he was not there.

Aung Moe Lwin’s father U Thein Aung said he was determined to find out what happened to his son.

"I am proud of my son and I allowed him to do good things for the public,” U Thein Aung said.

“I will look for him until I find him. I don't think it will be easy, but I will search until I find him," he said.

“I won't give up until I find him. It is necessary to uncover the truth and I will continue to do so."

U Thein Aung arrived in Rangoon today, and has been to Rangoon divisional office, Kyeemyintaing court and Insein prison.

So far his investigations have met with denials from the authorities.

"The authorities have only said, ‘We don't know and he is not here’," U Thein Aung said.

"I want them to tell me where he is and what happened but they are hiding it, it is hard to cope with."

U Thein Aung said he had told his wife that their son was missing and wants his case to be treated as a missing person, feared dead, until the facts are established.

Reporting by DVB

Elected MP’s health deteriorates in detention - U Nyi Pu

Oct 2, 2008 (DVB)–Elected members of parliament U Nyi Pu and Dr Tin Min Htut have been transferred to Insein prison, according to a National League for Democracy spokesperson.

U Nyi Pu is the elected representative for Gwa township and an Arakan NLD organising committee member, while Dr Tin Min Htut is an elected MP from Panatanaw township in Irrawaddy division.

NLD spokesperson U Nyan Win said U Nyi Pu’s health had suffered since his arrest in August.

“U Nyi Pu can’t move the lower part of his body and we have heard that his health is not good,” Nyan Win said.

“When he was with use he was perfectly fine, I don’t know what is happening to him now.”

Their families have not yet been allowed to visit them.

Pu Cin Sian Thang, a colleague of U Nyi Pu, also said his friend's health had deteriorated since his arrest.

U Nyi Pu and Dr Tin Min Htut were arrested on 11 and 12 August respectively.

Along with Pu Cin Sian Thang, U Thein Pe and Dr Myint Naing, the two wrote a letter to the United Nations in July protesting the SPDC's plans for a 2010 election.

Some people have speculated that the arrests were connected with the letter, but Pu Cin Sian Thang said the reason for the arrests was not clear.

Separately, U Aung Thein, the lawyer who represents National League for Democracy member Ko Thein Swe, has asked the court to release his client now that the Interior Ministry has withdrawn the charge against him, Thein Swe’s father U Min Swe told DVB.

Thein Swe was arrested for his involvement in public demonstrations in September last year.

Aung Thein wrote to the court on Tuesday to request the release of Ko Thein Swe and Yeh Min Oo, and a decision is expected next week.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

'The Revolving Door': Plight of Burmese refugees in Malaysia

By Zarni

Chiang Mai (Mizzima)- In the first ever instance of highlighting the lives of refugees, particularly Burmese, Malaysian rights campaigners have launched a new book compiling eight stories on the pathetic situation of Burmese refugees.

The book titled, 'The Revolving Door', highlights the precarious state that Burmese refugees are in, in Malaysia while seeking refuge from persecution in their home country – Burma.

Dr. Irene Fernandez, author of the book, which was launched on Saturday, said, "I wrote this book as we need to present the responsibilities and understanding of the Malaysians, and also the international community to know more about violence towards these people."

Dr. Fernandez, in her book highlights the need for Malaysians to understand refugees and other foreign workers in their land. She said Burmese refugees and other foreign workers are often subjected to deportation from the border on arrest by the Malaysian authorities.

In the process of deportation of the refugees from the Malaysian border, the refugees are exposed and are vulnerable to human traffickers, who wait for Malaysian authorities to deport them and then charge a huge sum of money to help them get back into Malaysia, she said.

"This situation that the refugees are facing is like a revolving door, so I named the book 'The Revolving Door'," Dr, Fernandez told Mizzima.

According to her, most refugees, including women, children, pregnant women and elders, once arrested by Malaysian authorities are deported to the Thai-Malay border after the courts take a decision. And right at the border, the refugees are met by human traffickers, who demand huge sums of money to help them go back in.

Most often the refugees are charged between 1300 and 2000 Malaysian Ringgits (377 to 581 US Dollar) by the traffickers.

Dr. Fernandez hopes the book, which compiles eight stories of Burmese refugees, will bring about a better understanding about the lives and struggles of refugees and foreign workers in Malaysia.

"We hope that there will be some changes from this. Once people read this book they will understand these poor people and may think for them and they could recognize the refugees," said Dr. Fernandez.

Malaysia, an emerging economic tiger of Southeast Asia, in recent years has become a destination for many refugees and migrant workers from regional countries including Burma, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Nepal.

According to the Kuala Lumpur based Burma Workers' Rights Protection Committee, Malaysia hosts at least 400,000 refugees and migrants from Burma alone.

Meanwhile, Burmese refugees and migrant workers said with the continued harassment by Malaysian Volunteer Corps known as RELA, the book would bring some light on the plight they have long suffered.

"We welcome this book both for Burmese refugees and Burmese migrant workers. We feel like it is a ray of hope for Burmese in Malaysia, who are out of range of protection both from workers' rights and human rights groups," said Ye Min Htun, Secretary of BWRPC.

According to Burmese workers and refugees, they are often raided by RELA groups and are randomly arrested even if they hold legal work permits or refugee recognition certificates issued by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

The Burmese then are forcibly imprisoned in detention camps and are sentenced for deportation.

Dr. Fernandez said her book urges the Malaysian government to recognise the Burmese refugees and stop violating their rights.

"We would also like to urge the international community to respond on this horrific situation of Burmese refugees in Malaysia," Dr. Fernandez added.

Dr. Fernandez was awarded 'The Right Livelihood Award' in 2005 for her courageous and outstanding work against human rights violations. The award was established in 1980 by Jakob von Uexkull, and is presented annually, usually on December 9, to honour those 'working on practical and exemplary solutions to the most urgent challenges facing the world today'.

In 1995, Dr. Fernandez was arrested by Malaysian authorities and charged with 'maliciously publishing false news' on the abuse of the rights of migrant workers, malnutrition, physical and sexual abuses, the appalling working conditions of workers and for presenting facts about the situation in detention camps, where many migrant workers end up and die.

Despite being on bail pending an appeal, she - the founder of Tenaganita organization, courageously carries on her work to stand for the rights of refugees and foreign workers.

Burmese Exile Media Web Site Again Under Attack

The Irrawaddy News

The Web site of the Mizzima Burmese news organization in exile has again come under attack by pro-regime hackers.

Sein Win, editor of the Mizzima news agency, said the site,, had been briefly knocked out on Wednesday morning by hackers calling themselves “Independence Hackers from Burma.” The attack lasted about 10 hours.

Visitors to the site found a crude, ungrammatical message reading: “Dear MIZZIMA Readers...Listen Please, Why Hack This Website?... Because we are Independence Hackers from Burma. We Born for Hack Those F**king Media Website, Which Are Ever Talk about only Worse News for Our Country. We are very sorry for Webadmin, You Need to More Secure Your Website. Now We Warn to All Media Webadmins That is "Prepare to More Secure Your Work."

Mizzima and three other exiled Burmese Web sites—The Irrawaddy, the Democratic Voice of Burma and Khitpyaing—came under cyber attack late last month.

Mizzima was hacked while the three other sites were bombarded by a so-called “distributed denial-of-service”, or DDoS, which overloads Web sites with an unmanageable amount of traffic.

The attacks coincided with the first anniversary of the regime’s brutal suppression of monk-led demonstrations in September 2007.

Exiled media groups, bloggers, reporters inside Burma and citizen journalists played major roles in reporting on the September 2007 uprising.

As Burmese commemorated the September 2007 uprising, the authorities intensified their watch over Internet cafes in Rangoon. In some Internet cafes, users have to show their ID, while informers observe students playing video games. Buddhist monks complain that they are treated like criminals if they are seen using the Internet.

Win Tin’s Logical Principles

The Irrawaddy News

The expression, Suu Hlut Twe, offers three simple ideas to break the country’s chronic political stand off between the military and political opposition groups.

Suu stands for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the unconditional release of all political prisoners.

Hlut stands for Hluttaw (people’s parliament) and the convening of parliament with the representatives of the 1990 elections.

Twe stands for dialogue between the military government and opposition groups.

Those were three basic ideas that prominent journalist-turned-politician Win Tin held to during his 19-year imprisonment. It was his commitment to the pro-democracy movement that helped him overcome harsh obstacles in prison, said the 79-year-old NLD opposition leader days after his release in late September.

Win Tin said he will continue to work toward those simple principles in the ongoing struggle for democracy. Win Tin, who was a secretary in Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy before his arrest in 1989, was reappointed to his old position as a member of the party’s Central Executive Committee on September 27 during the NLD’s 20th anniversary in Rangoon.

Win Tin’s principles harkens back to the NLD policies in place following the 1990 elections. In the passage of years, the military regime has consistently dismissed all NLD proposals and, instead, gone its own way—following its “road map” to democracy that simply excludes all opposition groups and main ethnic political parties.

Burma’s Foreign Minister Nyan Win told the UN General Assembly on Monday, “Peace and stability now prevails in almost all parts of the country.” The former military officer said the government’s road map offers the best chance for a return to civilian rule.

The junta’s planned election in 2010 is the next step on its road map. After the election, the junta claims it will hand over power to a civilian government. Last year the junta concluded its 14-year National Convention, which drafted a constitution, since approved that guarantees the military will control the pseudo-civilian government.

The regime’s foreign minister told the UN assembly, “All citizens, regardless of political affiliation, will have equal rights to form political parties and to conduct elections campaigns.” However, some former political prisoners and activists are likely to be banned from taking part in the election.

The NLD boycotted the junta’s National Convention in 1995 and consistently criticized the regime’s road map as illegitimate, calling it one-sided and lacking the participation of the 1990-elected members of parliament. Last week, in a statement the NLD called for the junta to review the constitution.

The head of Burma’s police, Brig-Gen Khin Yi, warned NLD’s leaders to withdraw their critical statement, saying it could provoke citizens to make critical comments against the government, which—by law—is illegal in Burma because it could provoke instability.

Similar demand by the UN special envoy, Ibrahim Gambari, was also ignored by the regime.

On Saturday, the UN’s Group of Friends of Myanmar—composed of the United States, Britain, China, Southeast Asian countries and the European Union—again called for the release of all political prisoners.

But it’s quite unlikely. The junta’s recent release of less than 10 political prisoners, including Win Tin, won it praise from some countries. The release was part of a general amnesty for about 9,000 prisoners convicted of criminal offenses.

The remaining 2,000 political prisoners are unlikely to enjoy an amnesty anytime soon. The junta considers the jailed pro-democracy advocates “destructive elements of the country” and, as a result, most of them have no chance of release until after the 2010 election.

Recently, The Irrawaddy learned from intelligence sources that an election law for the upcoming 2010 election is now on Than Shwe’s desk in Naypyidaw waiting to be signed. He’s still the only person who has the power to determine Burma’s course.

Win Tin’s Suu Hlut Twe policy is logical. Like everything in Burma, however, the ideas have to be acceptable to Than Shwe.

Generals Authorized to Buy Land Cruisers

The Irrawaddy News

The latest perk for Burma’s senior military officials is a Toyota Land Cruiser, according to a source close to the military government.

"Nowadays the talk in the army is the news that all high ranking military officers above major general have permission to buy Land Cruisers," the source told The Irrawaddy.

Low-ranking officials are unhappy about the news, said the source, griping that the vehicles could end up being sold on the black market.

"The permit allows buying a vehicle for 140,000,000 kyat (US $112,450). But a vehicle that’s bought could be sold on the black market for 500,000,000 kyat ($401,606)," according to the source. The price for a 2009 Toyota Land Cruiser in the United States is around $65,000.

About 50 high ranking officers above major general work in the Ministry of Defense.

Abuse of power and corruption are common in the military government. According to the Global Corruption Report 2008, recently released by Transparency International, Burma is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, ranking just ahead of Somalia and tied with Iraq at the second-lowest ranking.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 vehicles that were seized in southern Burma for not having legal registration papers were auctioned this week by Southeast Command in Moulmein, according to a source with the Mon ceasefire group.

Sources at the New Mon State Party said the vehicles, seized in the past few years, have been re-registered with new titles and licenses. The number of vehicles to be sold is not known. In the past, such vehicles were usually sold to businessmen favored by the regime.

The source said about 50 vehicles were sold or traded last week at the Southeast Command in Moulmein.

A Toyota Mighty 8 Hilux brought from 10,000,000 kyat ($8,032) to 30,000,000 kyats ($ 24,096), depending on the model’s year.

Most vehicles were seized from local residents or members of the Mon ceasefire group. In 2003, the regime passed a law allowing seizure of vehicles without legal registration papers and imprisonment of the owner for up to three years.

Reports of Rape Surface in Cyclone-devastated Delta

The Irrawaddy News

LAPUTTA — Reports of rape and other abuses of women are surfacing as communities in Burma’s Irrawaddy delta continue to recover from May’s Cyclone Nargis.

Women were particularly vulnerable in the cyclone and its aftermath, when social order broke down. Many complain their plight was ignored by local authorities and the military.

One 20-year-old woman from a village in Laputta District said three men who responded to her cries for help the day after the cyclone raped and tried to rob her.

One villager reported seeing two men armed with knives rape a 15-year-old girl before drowning her. “I was afraid to try and help the girl and I pretended to be dead,” he confessed.

The rapes and killing continued weeks after the cyclone, as devastated communities tried to restore normal life, according to villagers.

A resident of Gyin Yah village in Laputta District said that a month after the cyclone he had discovered the body of a teenage girl who had been raped and killed, then dumped in a rice paddy.

Some villagers accused military authorities of trying to prevent news of rape and pillage becoming public. Villages allowing news of the abuses to escape were threatened with destruction, sources said.

One man from Kyane Gone village in Laputta District said a soldier had tried to drag away his daughter as they waited for aid at a military base. He had complained to an officer, who had angrily sent him away.

A woman survivor from Sate Gyi village in Laputta Township said: “I don’t dare return to my home. I’m the only woman survivor and would be the only woman among eight men.”

Myanmar detains political ally of Aung San Suu Kyi

YANGON, Myanmar (IHT): Myanmar's military authorities have detained a prominent former journalist and political ally of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition party said Thursday.

Police took 64-year-old Ohn Kyaing from his home Wednesday evening, said Nyan Win, the spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy.

"The reason why he was detained was not known," Nyan Win said.

Ohn Kyaing was released from prison in 2005 after serving 15 years of a 17-year prison sentence for "writing and distributing seditious pamphlets" and threatening state security.

Ohn Kyaing joined the NLD after a long career in journalism and won a parliamentary seat in 1990 — elections that were overwhelmingly won by Suu Kyi's party but which the military junta refused to recognize.

Until then, he had worked at several newspapers and written articles under the pen name "Aung Wint."

Ohn Kyaing is a close friend and former colleague of Win Tin, another former journalist turned opposition politician, who was the longest-serving political prisoner in Myanmar until his release Sept. 23. Win Tin served 19 years behind bars.

Asked to comment on the detention of Ohn Kyaing, Win Tin said, it "is not unusual and something we have to expect. He is a close colleague, a good friend and a highly qualified man."

The Home Ministry, which is in charge of police, could not be reached for comment Thursday. Authorities seldom comment on arrests of this nature.

Myanmar has been under military rule for 46 years and is one of the world's poorest and most authoritarian nations. Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been detained for 13 of the last 19 years.