Eight people arrested after signature campaign

Mar 9, 2009 (DVB), Eight people were arrested in Rangoon's Twantay township on charges of not having valid guest passes after they carried out a signature campaign calling for the release of all political prisoners.

Khin Zaw, a seafood dealer and owner of a teashop in Zaythit ward, was arrested on 3 March along with seven of his employees and released two days later.

Seventy people, including Zaythit ward authority chairman, Than Oo, and the local police force, raided his house, according to Khin Zaw.

They were accompanied by Union Solidarity and Development Association members and immigration department staff.

"The immigration officer confirmed that my census list was correct but the ward chair said that my guest list was not valid," he said.

"But the police deputy and immigration officer said that I was right and returned the list and told me to go to bed."

Ten minutes later, however, the authorities returned again and arrested his employees and detained them for two days before they were released on bail.

They are scheduled to appear in court on 9 March.

"I collected signatures for the release of all political prisoners, including Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the monks," Khin Zaw said.

"They bear grudges against me for doing that and carried out the arrests even though I did register my guests."

The authorities also came to check whether any NLD members were staying in his house a week before the raid and arrests, Khin Zaw said.

Twantay township NLD youth member Yeh Htut said that party members will continue to carry out the signature campaign despite harassments from local authorities.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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