A solo demonstrator protesting against corruption among government officials in southern Burma was arrested yesterday and held for several hours, but not before he made a bold verbal attack on the country’s police force.
The 61-year-old is a veteran protestor, having been imprisoned for two years following the September 2007 uprising. That experience appears not to have affected his nerve: as Soe Kywe stood in a rural street in Rangoon division’s South Dagon township calling for officials to be held accountable for money taken from locals, riot police quickly arrived and arrested him.
“Brother, please move aside,” he told the policeman. “Are you going to arrest me?
“Even if so, you don’t need those [riot shields] – you are already making the scene look ugly. This is no longer the age to use those shields and weapons. I am protesting in a non-violent way.”
The dilapidated road he was standing on had been promised a facelift more than a year ago by canvassing Union Solidarity and Development Party members, the party that now dominates Burma’s parliament.
Soe Kywe complained that the pledge, like many others made prior to the November 2010 elections and which involved taking money from impoverished locals, has not been fulfilled.
Nor is round-the-clock electricity or clean water available in the area of South Dagon township where he staged the demonstration. Soe Kywe, who was detained for around eight hours, says he had also petitioned President Thein Sein over the false promises.
According to a protest bill passed by Burma’s parliament last year, authorities must be given one weeks’ notice prior to any demonstration taking place. Soe Kywe said his attempts to gain permission were rejected, but he pursued with the protest regardless.