Man sets fire to himself to protest economic hardship

Mar 24, 2008 (DVB), A solo demonstrator was hospitalised after setting fire to himself at Rangoon's historic Shwe Dagon pagoda in a protest against economic hardship, witnesses said.

According to AFP reporting, the man was 26-year-old Thaw Zin Naing from Ayeyarwaddy division, west of Rangoon.

He poured petrol over himself before using a candle to set himself on fire.

A relative of one of the witnesses told DVB that onlookers had quickly extinguished the fire.

"My aunt saw it when she was at Shwe Dagon pagoda. There were a lot of people there as it was a full moon day. My aunt thought it was just a small fire caused by the candles," the relative said.

"Bystanders managed to put out the fire immediately by pouring water from nearby flower pots on him."

The man is now being treated at Rangoon general hospital.

The witness's relative said rumours were circulating that the man has been charged by police, but this has not been confirmed.

"There are rumours spreading in town saying the man has been charged by Bahan township police for causing public alarm," the relative said.

Rangoon general hospital was unavailable for comment.

Reporting by Yee May Aung

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