Burma protesters 'beaten'
An activist holds a poster of pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Ky during protests in Rangoon. Photo: Reuters September 26, 2007 - 3:44PM
Witnesses say police beat about 700 anti-junta protesters with batons to break up a crowd including students and some Buddhist monks near a pagoda in Burma's main city Rangoon.
The witnesses told AFP that only monks were allowed to enter the Shwedagon Pagoda, where they had gathered for prayers before their earlier marches.
Soldiers sealed off the smaller Kyay Toon pagoda, near the eastern entrance to Shwedagon, where supporters had brought food and water for the monks before previous marches.
Meanwhile, the headquarters of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party was under guard by riot police, as the ruling junta rolled out a heavy security presence to stifle mass demonstrations.
Witnesses said that a covered police truck, with some 30 armed riot police sitting inside, stood 100 metres from the ramshackle National League for Democracy (NLD) headquarters in central Rangoon.
About 30 members of the party were waiting outside the building, apparently ready to join any fresh protests despite stiff government warnings against a new public display of defiance against the regime.
Yesterday, dozens of NLD members also gathered outside the building before joining the throngs of demonstrators, led by Buddhist monks, which swelled to 100,000 and swept through the city in the eighth straight day of protests.
Large contingents of students also joined the march, carrying the red flags emblazoned with yellow peacocks that symbolise the NLD and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest.
The NLD joined calls for a peaceful resolution to the demonstrations, which have grown into a nationwide movement that poses the most potent challenge to the junta's rule in 20 years.
"We can definitely solve these matters because of our recent condition and the general crisis in our country. The only way is through peaceful dialogue," it said in a statement yesterday. smh.com.au