Burma junta gang hits Suu Kyi birthday rally
Worst birthday ever: it's bad enough that Burma's elected leader. Aung San Suu Kyi, has been under house arrest for 13 years, but to attack a rally on her birthday?
At least six truckloads of Swan-Arr-Shin, or "Masters of Force", gang members waded into the crowd outside the dilapidated headquarters of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) in the former capital, Rangoon, one witness said.
"We saw some of them slapping and beating NLD members," the witness said. Senior NLD official Win Naing later told Reuters three people had been taken away.
Her birthday has become an annual ritual inside and outside Burma for campaigners seeking an end to the 46 years of military rule that have reduced a once-promising economy and country to an impoverished international pariah.
Every year, the NLD's ageing leadership releases birds and statements calling for Suu Kyi's freedom and a meaningful transition to democracy.
After Cyclone Nargis, which left 134 000 people dead or missing and 2,4-million destitute, campaigners are worried about the international community quietly shelving their icon's plight in a bid to get the junta to open up to outside aid.
"The United Nations is crawling on its knees before the regime, afraid to speak the truth in case it affects aid access deals which the regime is already breaking," Mark Farmaner of the Burma Campaign UK said last month.