YANGON (Reuters) - Another 10 activists trying to pray for the release of Myanmar democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi were arrested on Wednesday, taking the total to nearly 50 in two days, friends said.
Police arrested the group as they prepared to pray at a pagoda on the outskirts of Yangon for the release of Suu Kyi, 61, a Nobel peace laureate whose latest period of detention by the military regime ends on May 27, they said.
The arrests followed the detention of 39 people under similar circumstances on Tuesday, including Su Su Nway, a labor activist jailed for nine months in 2005 who has emerged as a prominent leader of young human rights campaigners.
“Like yesterday’s incidents, a large number of people overpowered them,” one friend said. “They claim to be so-called duty-conscious citizens,” but were really supporters of the junta and plainclothed police, he added.
Su Su Nway and members of Suu Kyi’s opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) have organized prayers for her release at Buddhist temples since the start of May.
The NLD sent a letter to junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe on May 10 calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Suu Kyi, who has spent more than 11 of the past 17 years under some form of detention.
The military, which has ruled Myanmar in various guises since 1962, ignored international calls for her release on May 27 last year and extended her detention for another 12 months.
On Monday, more than 50 former heads of state and government — including former presidents Jimmy Carter, George Bush and Bill Clinton of the United States, Poland’s Lech Walesa and Kim Dae-jung of South Korea — appealed for Suu Kyi’s release.