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Sept 3, 2007
Myanmar protests hit Junta leaders hard
Defiant activists held a protest over high fuel prices in the hometown of Myanmar's military leader Monday, as the British prime minister joined calls for the United Nations to take action against the regime's brutal crackdown on a rare wave of dissent. more

Protesters had planned to stage a 260 kilometer (160 mile) protest march from Laputta township in Myanmar's southwestern Ayeyarwaddy delta to the country's biggest city, Yangon, on Monday, but authorities broke up the march and detained several protest leaders as they were about to set off, witnesses said.

More than 15 people, however, held a small protest in Kyaukse, the hometown of junta leader Gen. Than Shwe. Kyaukse is located about 530 kilometers (330 miles) north of Yangon. Protesters eluded several junta thugs in trucks who attempted to stop the march.

"Kyaw Thu Moe Myint, one of the organizers of the march in Kyaukse, was arrested Sunday night, but we managed to implement the plan by staging the protest march," one of the participants told reporters, acknowledging he was released later Monday.

Myanmar's junta has beaten and detained scores of activists and used gangs of hired thugs in Yangon to curtail protests that began Aug. 19 after fuel prices were raised overnight by as much as 500 percent. The price hike has made public transport and some consumer goods vastly more expensive in the impoverished country.

 Last week, protests reached Mandalay, among the country's biggest cities and a popular tourist destination. About 30 members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy staged the protest to "reflect the hardship that the people of Myanmar are going through," Win Mya Mya, an NLD member, told reporters.

The U.N.'s independent expert on human rights in Myanmar, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, said Friday in Geneva he had received reports that some people had been "severely beaten and tortured" in detention.

The regime's heavy-handed tactics have drawn condemnation from world leaders including U.S. President George W. Bush, who has urged Myanmar's government to heed international calls to release the detained activists and to stop intimidating citizens who are promoting democracy and human rights.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown echoed those sentiments Monday, demanding the regime release all political prisoners and urging the U.N. Security Council to take up the "grave situation" in Myanmar, also known as Burma, as soon as possible. AP Reports

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