Pretoria News

Myanmar forces drive into and then arrest campaign leader

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MYANMAR security forces yesterday arrested one of the main leaders of the campaign against military rule after driving into him with a car as he led a motorbike protest rally, friends and colleagues said.

Opponents of a February 1 coup that ousted an elected government led by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, have kept up their campaign against the military this traditiona­l New Year week. “Our brother Wai Moe Naing was arrested. His motorbike was hit by a private car of the police,” Win Zaw Khiang, a member of a protest organising group said on social media.

Wai Moe Naing, a 25-year-old Muslim, has emerged as one of the most high-profile leaders of opposition to the coup. Reuters was not able to contact Wai Moe Naing by telephone. Earlier, they spoke to him as he set off to lead the rally in the central town of Monywa, about 700km north of the main city of Yangon.

Videos posted on social media showed an oncoming car swerving into a group of motorbikes. A spokespers­on for the junta could not be reached for comment.

Monywa has been one of main centres of the pro-democracy campaign with big rallies day after day and repeated crackdowns by the security forces.

Some colleagues said they feared for Wai Moe Naing’s safety in detention.

Earlier on Thursday, soldiers opened fire in the city of Mandalay to disperse protesting medical workers and one man was killed and several wounded when security forces fired in a nearby neighbourh­ood, media reported.

Medical workers, some at the forefront of the campaign against the coup, gathered early in the second city but troops soon arrived, opening fire and detaining some people, witnesses and the BBC’s Burmese-language service said.

The five-day New Year holiday, known as Thingyan, began on Tuesday but pro-democracy activists cancelled the usual festivitie­s to focus on their opposition to the generals.

Hundreds of people joined marches and motorbike rallies in several towns.

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