Newest Protests Quashed
YANGON, Myanmar - Demonstrators on Tuesday tried to mount a new protest against rising prices, but marched only 30 yards before being beaten and wrestled into waiting trucks by civilians who back Myanmar's military government, witnesses said.
The two dozen protesters shouted slogans against a big fuel price hike and implored onlookers to join them, stressing they were marching peacefully for their rights, said witnesses, who asked not to be quoted by name for fear of reprisals from the regime.
The marchers were quickly set upon by pro-government toughs, who pummeled demonstrators with fists while dragging them into trucks, the witnesses said. At least one protester was reportedly dragged by his feet.
A prominent labor activist and former political prisoner, Su Su Nway, took part in the protest, but said she managed to escape in a taxi with several colleagues.
"Peaceful protests are brutally cracked down upon and I want to tell the international community that there is no rule of law in Myanmar," she told The Associated Press.
More than a dozen of the country's leading democracy activists, members of the 88 Generation Students group, were detained Aug. 21 before a similar demonstration.
Myanmar activists in exile claimed 200-300 people, including many Buddhist monks, took part in another protest Tuesday in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in western Myanmar.
A report on the Web site of the Democratic Voice of Burma, an opposition shortwave radio station based in Norway, said witnesses reported the protest lasted for at least an hour without interference.
Protests triggered by fuel price hikes began Aug. 19 and have continued on an almost daily basis despite a security clampdown by the military government supported by organized bands of civilian toughs serving as law enforcers.
Myanmar's ruling junta, which has received widespread international criticism for violating the human rights of its citizens, tolerates little public dissent.