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286 activists arrested so far in 2008

Sep 2, 2008 (DVB), At least 39 human rights and pro-democracy activists were arrested during August this year and 21 were given prison sentences, according to Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

This brings the total to at least 286 activists who have been arrested this year, said Ko Tate Naing of the AAPP.

"At the end of 2007 when Gambari came [to Burma], the SPDC said that those who were arrested in August-September had been released and promised that that there would be no further arrests," he said.

"But in 2008, the arrests haven't stopped , at least 286 people have been arrested so far this year. Similarly, there are many people who have been imprisoned this year."

Tate Naing said the majority of those detained and jailed were National League for Democracy members, human rights activists and students or youth activists.

Some were given summary trials, sentenced the following day and sent to hard labour camps.

The AAPP has been disappointed by the lack of progress in human rights issues and democratisation despite visits by United Nations special envoy Ibrahim Gambari and the human rights rapporteur for Burma, Tomas Ojea Quintana.

"Pro-democracy and human rights activists are still being abused and arrested without reasons and lawlessly , that is what we want to say," Tate Naing said.

"If it goes on like this and they are not doing effective investigations, if they are not using the working powers of the UN, if they continue to treat the SPDC diplomatically, then we won't be able to expect much from the UN, we will have to rethink [its] intervening role."

The NLD has also criticised the authorities for stepping up its harassment of party members with a spate of arrests and imprisonments in recent weeks.

Reporting by Naw Say Phaw


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