Thu, Nov 01, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Myanmar releases opposition members


Myanmar's military government has freed seven members of Aung San Suu Kyi's pro-democracy party who were held for more than a month following the junta's deadly crackdown on anti-government protests, the party said yesterday.

The releases on Tuesday night came ahead of a visit by UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to seek reconciliation between the junta and democratic forces since month's demonstrations led by Buddhist monks, the biggest protests in the Southeast Asian nation in nearly two decades.

The seven had been detained at the infamous Insein Prison in Yangon, said Nyan Win, spokesman for Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party.

They included party spokesman Myint Thein and six others: Han Zaw, Lei Lei, Ko Bala, Cin Shin Htan, Htaung Ko Htan and Win Naing, the spokesman said.

"All these people had been arrested unnecessarily and we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained arbitrarily," another NLD spokesman, Han Tha, said.

He said that at least 150 party members out of nearly 300 who had been arrested since September remain in detention.

Han Tha said many of them have been denied proper medical treatment and were living in harsh conditions.

The government had earlier said it detained about 3,000 people in connection with the protests but had released most of them. Many reports have emerged of brutal treatment in custody.

The league said many of the detainees were questioned about links between the party and the protests, which were led by Buddhist monks.

Demonstrations that began on Aug. 19 over high prices for fuel and consumer goods mushroomed over several weeks into a broad-based movement that attracted thousands of people in Yangon, the country's biggest city, and other areas.

Troops crushed the protests by shooting at demonstrations on Sept. 26 and Sept. 27, arresting thousands including Buddhist monks.

The government said 10 people were killed, but dissident groups put the toll at up to 200 and thousands arrested including a number of Buddhist monks.

The junta accused the league the 88 Generation Students group, exiled dissidents and the US of inciting the protests.

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