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Myanmar Opposition Claims Arrests

August 12, 1999

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) _ A Myanmar opposition group said Thursday that there had been a new round of arrests of anti-government activists in the same area where 19 people were reportedly detained last month.

The National Council of the Union of Burma said about 40 people had been arrested recently in the Bago area, 40 miles northeast of the Southeast Asian country’s capital, Yangon.

The council is a coalition of exiled political and ethnic minority groups opposed to the military government of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

A government spokesman denied the claim to The Associated Press.

The opposition group’s statement said a large number of small demonstrations and other protest activities have taken place in the past few months in Bago, which is also known as Pegu. Public protests are almost unknown under the repressive military regime.

Last month 19 other people were detained in Bago for preparing anti-government leaflets, according to the human rights group Amnesty International and an exile opposition group, the All Burma Students’ Democratic Front.

The government said it had detained some people for their association with the student front, which it considers a terrorist group.

Myanmar’s military government has been harshly criticized by human rights groups and Western countries for suppression of civil liberties and refusal to turn over power to an elected government.

The opposition statement said the newly detained people included members of the National League for Democracy party, which won a 1990 general election but never took power because the military would not allow parliament to convene.

The statement also alleged that the fathers of two arrested activists were dismissed from their jobs because of their children’s political activities.

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