November 22, 2007 / 10:27 AM / in 11 years

Myanmar opposition says arrests undermine talks

YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar’s National League for Democracy condemned on Thursday the arrest of two prominent politicians, saying it undermined talks to build “mutual confidence” between the opposition and military junta.

Myint Naing, a senior NLD member, and Pu Chin Sian Thang, chairman of the Zomi National Congress (ZNC) party, were detained by police on Tuesday, family and opposition sources said.

Their arrests came a day after detained NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi met for a third time with General Aung Kyi, the junta’s go-between appointed as a result of global outrage at September’s crackdown on democracy protests.

“The military government should not be making these arrests at this point while we are trying to build mutual confidence,” NLD spokesman Nyan Win said.

Pu Chin, 69, is an open critic of the regime who has now been arrested nine times by the military which has ruled the former Burma since 1962.

He was last detained on September 27, at the height of the crackdown which Western diplomats say killed many more than the official toll of 15, and released a month later.

“The police officer told us he would be sent back shortly, but he isn’t back home yet,” a relative said. “We don’t know anything about his whereabouts”.

Myanmar’s Southeast Asian neighbours and the European Union issued a joint call on Thursday for the immediate release of all political detainees.

Myanmar’s state-owned media say all but 91 of the nearly 3,000 arrested in the crackdown were released after questioning.

The regime also detained nearly 1,200 political prisoners before the September marches. They included former leaders of the 1988 student uprising, brutally crushed by the military, who were jailed in August for protesting over shock fuel price rises.

The so-called ‘88 Generation leaders jailed in Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison were allowed rare visits by family members on Wednesday.

“We were allowed to meet for 30 minutes in the presence of a security official who took notes,” said Ko Aung, who had not seen his older brother, former ‘88 leader Ko Ko Gyi, since August 21.

“We understand we will be able to meet once a week,” he said.

Editing by Darren Schuettler and Roger Crabb

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