Head monk held in exchange for brother

Oct 18, 2007 (DVB), The abbot of Thitsar Mandai monastery in Gontalabaung village was arrested on 2 October and is to be held until his brother, a monk wanted for involvement in last month's protests, is detained.

According to locals from the village in Mingaladon township, Rangoon, the monastery was raided by government troops from Rangoon military headquarters but only the head monk was taken into custody.

When villagers went to the military headquarters to find out about the monk, officials told them that his younger brother, also a monk, was wanted for involvement in last month's protests.

The officials said the abbot would not be released until they have detained his brother.

Arrests have continued in Rangoon and elsewhere in Burma despite the government's claim that the situation has returned to normal.

State-run newspaper the New Light of Myanmar reported on Tuesday that 2,927 people have been arrested in total in the crackdown on demonstrators, 2,284 from Rangoon and 643 from other states and divisions. This is significantly short of the 6,000 arrests claimed by some opposition groups.

The report stated that nearly 2,500 of those detained have been released "on pledge" as of yesterday, leaving fewer than 500 in detention.

Details of the pledge were not given, but other sources have said that detainees were made to sign a form agreeing never to take part in demonstrations again.

Reporting by Moe Aye and DVB

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