Police disrupt protest in Taunggok

Jan 17, 2008 (DVB), A protest over commodity prices which was due to take place in Taunggok township, Arakan state, today has been disrupted by police, one of the protest organisers said.

About 70 people gathered in front of Taunggok township market at around 7am to begin a walking protest against commodity prices, but police arrived on the scene and dispersed the protestors before the march could begin.

One of the protest organisers said that the police chief warned the demonstrators against continuing their protest.

"When we were gathering in front of the town hospital this morning for the protest, the township police chief came up to us, accompanied by riot police, and told us not to start any trouble," the organiser said.

The organiser said that authorities had heard a rumour about the planned demonstration, which 200 people were due to attend.

Taunggok township National League for Democracy deputy chairman U Than Pe was summoned by township officials at around 11pm yesterday and questioned about the possible protest.

Authorities also shut down markets and schools and closed all the roads and waterways coming into the town to prevent people coming from outlying villages to join the protest.

Security remains tight in the township, with a heavy presence of armed guards to prevent further demonstrations.

Swan Arr Shin and Union Solidarity and Development Association members have also been seen on street corners in the town, some on motorbikes.

The members are armed with batons and have been taking photographs of people and threatening to arrest them if necessary.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw

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