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Thirteen striking workers and two journalists were apprehended by police during a labour protest and detained in Rangoon’s Insein Township on Wednesday.
Workers from the Shwepyithar Industrial Zone were continuing their recent demonstrations calling for better pay by marching to City Hall in the former capital. Leaders of the strike from the industrial zone have previously been charged under Article 505(b) of the Penal Code.
Thirteen workers were detained on Wednesday, according to a report in state media, along with DVB’s Myo Zaw Linn and 7Day Daily’s Ko Nikki. The reporters were released last night after being held briefly, but the protestors remain in detention.
A report by state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said that locals assisted police with the dispersal of the “illegal” protest.
The journalists were taken to an interrogation facility on Kabar Aye Pagoda Road after being caught up in a clash between officers and workers at the Danyingone intersection.
“The police began manhandling the labour protesters, who resisted,” said Myo Zaw Linn, following his release.
“It was chaos. Some men attempted to drag me away and snatch my camera out of my hand. They threatened to smash it up, and one of them shouted, ‘Punch that guy!’ I told them there was no need to hit me, and that I would go with them. Four of them – two in civilian clothing and two in police uniform – dragged me into a truck,” he said.
After Myo Zaw Linn and Ko Nikki were taken into detention, Pol. Lt-Col Myint Htwe of the Eastern Rangoon district police told DVB the reporters would be released after the police check their belongings and take their affidavit.
Speaking to DVB after their apprehension, Pol. Lt-Col Myint Htwe of the Eastern Rangoon district said, “We are not detaining them. They were brought to the interrogation centre by mistake, and I am just going to send them back home. We let them wait outside the interrogation room until we take the necessary details from them. After this, I will send them back to their parents’ house myself.”
Myo Zaw Linn was escorted home on Wednesday evening after signing an affidavit.
A report in Burma’s state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said that prior to the release of the journalists, officials “warned them of observing media ethics while authorities are taking their duties in accordance with the law.”
Read more: Protest without imprisonment, an interview with Bo Gyi of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners the right to protest in Burma.