Riot police training in Pakokku

Dec 21, 2007 (DVB), Riot training and practice missions have been taking place in Pakokku for the past two weeks, in what locals have assumed is a show of force to discourage protests.

A senior police official was sent to Pakokku by police chief Khin Yi two weeks ago to conduct the training along with police trainers.

The training has been conducted inside the Pakokku police station compound, and has been attended by police officers from Pakokku, Myaing, Yaysakyo and Pauk townships.

Local residents said that the trainees have been going out into Pakokku on missions every night between midnight and 3am.

The residents assumed that the training was intended to be highly visible as a warning to people not to start any more protests.

Locals believe the authorities may be particularly concerned following the funeral of U Saw Hla Tun, a high-profile political activist and private tutor, which was held about two weeks ago.

Hundreds of people were said to have attended the funeral and thousands of bystanders reportedly watched the procession through the town until it was stopped by the authorities.

U Saw Hla Tun was a student activist in 1974 and was sent to prison a number of times. He died aged 55 from brain damage he reportedly received when he suffered torture in prison some time ago.

Pakokku was the scene of the early monk-led protests in September this year, and monks from the township took to the streets again at the end of October.

Reporting by Aye Nai

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