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Myanmar activist arrested for third time

world Updated: Mar 08, 2007 18:31 IST

A Myanmar activist was arrested for the third time in three weeks on Thursday after he called on the ruling junta to end hunger in the impoverished nation.

Htin Kyaw was arrested after holding a press conference where he again urged the junta to improve Myanmar's dire living conditions and release seven people arrested over a small protest against the regime last month.

"We are not against the government. We want to say in all sincerity that we are starving.

We are asking our leadership to end our famine and our rough living conditions," the 44-year-old said.

"We will continue asking the leadership to meet our demands. We will not retreat from our demands."

He and eight protesters were arrested and held for up to five days after a 30-minute protest on February 22, the first public demonstration against the regime in a decade.

During the protest, about 25 people marched through a Yangon market urging lower prices for basic commodities, more jobs and 24-hour electricity.

Three journalists covering the event were also briefly detained.

Then on Tuesday, Htin Kyaw was again detained along with seven different protesters.

He was released on Wednesday and taken in again after Thursday's press conference.

Win Naing, the 71-year-old organiser of the press conference, was also detained, according to his wife.

Protests of any kind are rare in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, which has been under military rule since 1962.

The ruling junta has long feared that the country's crumbling economy, driven into the ground by decades of mismanagement and hobbled by Western sanctions, could spark urban unrest.

The UN's World Food Programme estimates that 40 percent of children in Myanmar are malnourished.