Grassroots activist pressured by police

Feb 6, 2009 (DVB), Grassroots activist Than Soe, who helped local farmers in Magwe's Aung Lan township report land seizures, has gone into hiding after being threatened with arrest by the police.

Than Soe, a resident of San Kalay village in Aung Lan provided legal support to local farmers seeking justice after their farms were seized by local authorities who were seeking a monopoly on sugar cane production.

A resident of Aung Lan said Than Soe had recently been harassed by township police special information branch officers, who came to his home and threatened to arrest him for having connections with political activists.

"Aung Lan special police officer Nyi Nyi Aung kept going to his house constantly and told family members the authorities wanted to question him as they believed that he had given refuge to 88 Generation Students members hiding from government arrest," said the Aung Lan resident.

"He said the authorities would try to catch him if he didn’t turn himself in soon."

The resident said Than Soe had gone into hiding to avoid arrest but Nyi Nyi Aung was still showing up at his house frequently, pressuring his family to turn him in.

"Than Soe, who is a farmer himself, was enthusiastically providing assistance to his fellow farmers who were being abused and now authorities are trying to throw him into prison," he said.

Reporting by Khin Hnin Htet

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