Mass opposition arrest on Martyrs' Day

July 20, 2009 (DVB), Around 20 members of Burma's opposition National League for Democracy party were briefly detained yesterday whilst returning from an annual celebration marking Martyrs' Day.

Around 50 National League for Democracy (NLD) members had marched to the Martyr's Mausoleum in Rangoon to pay their respects to General Aung San, Burma's independence leader and father of Aung San Suu Kyi, and other national heroes.

The event was marred by tight security, and 20 people were arrested on their return, said NLD spokesperson Nyan Win.

"About 30 to 40 people who went to the Martyrs' Hill this morning were nabbed in a truck but all were released after about 30 minutes," he said.

"Apparently they were detained for wearing t-shirts with pictures of General Aung San and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."

According to one NLD member, security officials had also collected personal information from each person as they entered the mausoleum.

"They also check our bags for digital equipments such as mobile phones, cameras and voice recorders and didn't allow us to take those into the mausoleum," he said.

"I felt so disturbed about it; I wanted to salute our national leaders who brought us independence without any restriction."

Suu Kyi, who is on trial at Rangoon's Insein prison on charges of breaching conditions of her house arrest, marked the day by sending food to patients inside the prison hospital.

Government officials also visited the mausoleum and laid wreaths in remembrance.

General Aung San was instrumental in setting in motion Burmese independence from British rule, although he was assassinated in July 1947, six months before it was successfully achieved.

As a revered symbol of civilian rule, the military government is now reportedly removing references to General Aung San from school textbooks.

Reporting by Thurein Soe and Ahunt Phone Myat

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