BANGKOK—Police in central Burma have arrested three youths belonging to the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) for gathering signatures on a petition seeking NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest.
The police chief in Natmauk, a city in central Burma, arrested Ko Aung Thein Oo and Ko Aung Moe Lwin on Sept. 8, witnesses who asked not to be named told RFA’s Burmese service. The township chairman under the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) on the same day arrested Ko Soe Min, they said.
All three youths were gathering signatures for a petition seeking Aung San Suu Kyi’s release from house arrest, and they were charged with violations of section 505 (B) of the Criminal Code, which bans efforts to harm the state or government and causing fear among the public.
No further details were immediately available. NLD sources confirmed the arrests and reported similar arrests in nearby Mandalay and Sagaing, although these could not be independently verified with eyewitness reports.
Aung San Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been detained since May last year, following a violent clash between her followers and a pro-government mob in northern Burma in which scores were killed.
In its most recent report on human rights around the world, the U.S. State Department said the Burmese junta’s “extremely poor human rights record worsened [in 2003], and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses.”
“Citizens still did not have the right to change their government. Security forces continued to commit extrajudicial killings and rape, forcibly relocate persons, use forced labor, conscript child soldiers, and reestablished forced conscription of the civilian population into militia units,” it said.
“During the year, government-affiliated agents killed as many as 70 pro-democracy activists. Disappearances continued, and members of the security forces tortured, beat, and otherwise abused prisoners and detainees. Citizens were subjected to arbitrary arrest without appeal.”