The protest against Burma’s military coup was organized by local communities from Kawkareik Township.
Bo Bo, a protest organizer, confirmed to Karen News 10 women including two teachers and a man were detained by police on Sunday 28th of February.
“The two teachers were grabbed and loaded into a car by police. The police then made an announcement telling the crowd to disperse. The protestors asked police to release the two arrested teachers, but instead of agreeing to the request, the police fired their water cannons to disperse the crowd. As the water cannons had little impact police began firing live rounds, tear gas and arrested anyone they could catch.”
The arrests in Kawkareik reflect a nationwide pattern as security forces turn to violence and arrests to try to disperse protestors.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP), have been providing daily updates n the arrested since the Burma military coup began on February 1. On March 2, 1294 people had been arrested, charged and sentenced.
Security forces have shown little regard for freedom of the press laws and have as of today arrested 34 journalists.
AAPP points out journalists have legal protection under Section 7 (a) (b) of the News Media Law of Myanmar. AAPP said it “strongly condemns the arrest and prosecution of the journalists. The international community must call for immediate release of the arrested journalists and ensure their freedom to report and inform the public.”
Bo Bo explained the arrested were from Kawkareik Town and from nearby villages.
Protestors said ethnic Karen armed organizations joined with local authorities to negotiate with police for the release of the eleven people. It expected police will release them after they signed an agreement not to protest in future.
Residents from Kawkareik Township joined the nationwide strike against the military coup since the 8th of February. Protestors said the recent arrests had an impact on the number now attending the protest, and as a consequence fewer people showed up to protest on March 1.
Bo Bo said, “We have no hatred towards the police. We just don’t like dictatorship – we will keep protesting until the dictatorship falls.”
Police are reportedly targeting young protest organizers.
As protests continue across Karen State more arrests are being reported.
On February 28, in Hpa-an, both police and Burma Army soldiers joined forces in cracking down on the protest and arrested around 40 protestors. At the Myawaddy town protest, it was reported police arrested 10 people.