- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

YANGON, MYANMAR (AP) - Authorities have arrested five members of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, a spokesman said Tuesday, a day after the U.N. called for the release of 2,100 political prisoners.

Among those arrested was Kyi Lwin, who has not been an active party member since suffering a stroke a year ago, said Han Tha Myint, spokesman of the National League for Democracy. Police took him from his home Sunday without explaining why.

“We have no clue at all why they were arrested,” said Han Tha. “Families were told that authorities are taking them for questioning.”

Four others arrested between March 6-13 include Myint Myint San, also known as Ma Cho, a member of the party’s Social Support Committee, which helps support political prisoners and their families. The three others are Sein Hlaing, Shwe Gyo and Thein Lwin, who are active party members, the spokesman said.

In recent months, the junta has locked away pro-democracy activists in an apparent attempt to clear away dissent before a general election promised for 2010. Military courts have sentenced hundreds of pro-democracy activists to harsh prison terms of up to 104 years.

On Monday, U.N. human rights investigator Tomas Ojea Quintana called on the junta to release its 2,100 or so political prisoners before the elections, _ the country’s first ballot in two decades.

In a report to be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Quintana said Myanmar’s military-run government should release all “prisoners of conscience” _ starting with the elderly, the sick and political leaders _ because their detention breaches basic human rights.

Quintana visited Myanmar last month but was denied requests to meet Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for more than 13 of the last 19 years.

“The release of political prisoners is what we have repeatedly called for,” said the spokesman of Suu Kyi’s party, adding that the demand from the U.N. offered “great moral support.”

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