[JURIST] Opposition activists in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] called for the release of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi [Nobel Prize profile; JURIST news archive] Friday as the nation observed its independence day. Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NDL) issued a statement also demanding the release of Buddhist monks detained during last year's anti-government protests and other political prisoners at a NDL meeting attended by about 300 party members and activists. A party spokesman said that 97 NDL members are currently being detained. The crackdown started in September when Myanmar security officers arrested hundreds of monks demonstrating against rising fuel prices and human rights abuses by the military regime. At least 10 people were killed when government soldiers shot into protesting crowds [JURIST report] and the government has said that some 3,000 people were arrested for participating in the protests. AP has more.
In related news, AP Thursday reported claims by humanitarian and opposition groups that the Myanmar army is positioning troops in rural areas populated by ethnic minorities, possibly in anticipation of another crackdown on dissidents and ethnic guerrillas. The groups say that past clampdowns against the rural population were far more brutal than the more publicized moves against urban protesters last year, and reported that the military engaged in widespread human rights abuses as it worked to root out remnants of the Karen National Union [group website; Wikipedia backgrounder] and other ethnic rebel forces. AP has more.