Police deployed to quell activity on Burma Human Rights Day

Mar 16, 2009 (DVB), Security was tight in Burma's former capital and economic hub Rangoon last Friday as overseas Burmese democracy activists marked the 21-year anniversary of the country's Human Rights Day.

The event coincides with the anniversary of the death of Rangoon Institute of Technology student Phone Maw, shot by government soldiers during a protest in 1988. It was this incident that became a key trigger of the 1988 nationwide uprising.

A resident in Rangoon said on Friday that no sign of activity from the opposition to mark the day was seen. Authorities had dispatched conveys of armed policemen to crowded junctions in downtown Rangoon.

"We are seeing long conveys of police trucks loading and unloading armed police officials at every intersection in Rangoon," said the resident. "They are disturbing a peaceful view for us."

"The policemen were restless. They were jumping in and off from their trucks all the time while waving their big guns around, as if our country was in a civil war," he said.

Other Rangoon residents said that heavily armed riot-police squads were stationed at Shwe Dagon pagoda and Shwegondai and Hledan intersections.

Maung Maung Lay, of the Human Rights Defenders and Promoters Network, said Friday's situation in Rangoon highlighted the human rights situation in Burma.

"We can't say our human rights situation has been improved just because the government agrees sign the ASEAN human rights charter and agreed to let some human rights diplomat from United Nation in the country," said Maung Maung Lay.

"Firstly the government needs to be really devoted to granting us the human rights."

Reporting by Thurein Soe

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