[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Saturday, 13 October 2007, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Key activists arrested in Burma
Htay Kywe in Rangoon - 27/5/07
Htay Kywe has been in hiding since the crackdown
Burma's military rulers have arrested three of the last remaining leaders of the recent pro-democracy protests which were violently suppressed.

Among those detained was Htay Kywe, who led some of the first marches and was a prominent activist in a 1988 uprising.

The arrests came as thousands attended a pro-government rally in Rangoon, many of them apparently under duress.

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who met junta leaders earlier this month, is preparing for another visit to Burma.

The arrests are going on, despite assurances given by the authorities to the UN
Daniel Alberman, Amnesty International
Following the latest arrests, few, if any, leaders of the 1988 generation of former student activists are thought to remain at large.

Other leaders detained overnight included Thin Thin Aye, also known as Mie Mie, and Aung Htoo, according to human rights group Amnesty International.

Hiding

Amnesty fears the detainees are at risk of torture and ill treatment.

"All three were involved in the early demonstrations at the end of August of this year and then basically went into hiding and were sought by the authorities, and they were only discovered today," Amnesty representative Daniel Alberman told the BBC's Newshour programme.

Burmese activists and dissidents say several thousand people have been taken into detention since troops and armed police cracked down on the protests at the end of September.

The Burmese military says it is also holding more than 100 monks arrested in recent weeks, though correspondents say the true figure is much higher.

Mr Alberman said UN pressure had not prevented the arrests.

Street in Rangoon
Rangoon was the focus of recent anti-junta protests
"The arrests are going on, and this is despite assurances given by the Myanmar [Burmese] authorities to the UN, who have called for an early release of all political prisoners," he said.

"There are still individuals free and hiding from arrest - we know of that - but the number is dwindling."

The government says 10 people were killed in the crackdown, though opposition groups say the toll was many times higher.

Rally

On Saturday, the junta organised the first pro-government rally in Rangoon since the suppression of the protests.

Officials said 120,000 people had attended the event, though there is no way to independently verify the figure. Burmese dissident groups said the number was much smaller.

There are reports of people being bused to the rallies and being paid cash to attend, while one participant told AFP news agency that every factory in the city's industrial zone had been obliged to send 50 participants to the rally.

The crowd chanted slogans denouncing Western countries and the foreign media, including the BBC, which Burma's military rulers accuse of fomenting the recent protests.

Other slogans denounced "internal and external destructive elements" - a reference to detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Western countries.

Mr Gambari is due to arrive in Thailand on Sunday, hoping to prepare the ground for a follow-up visit to Burma.

"I have instructed him to first visit the region to discuss with the leaders to create the necessary political atmosphere so that he'll be able to visit Myanmar sooner than mid-November," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Washington on Friday.

Earlier this month, Mr Gambari travelled to Burma and met the ruling junta and Ms Suu Kyi.

Earlier this week, the UN Security Council issued a statement condemning the violent suppression of anti-government protests.

The Burmese junta said in response that it "deeply regretted" the statement.

China had previously used its veto to block criticism of Burma's rulers, but said the council statement was meant to support mediation efforts by Mr Gambari.

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Scenes from last month's anti-government protests





FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific