Burma arrest

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The Independent Online
A young Briton was arrested in Burma after handcuffing himself to the gates of a high school in the capital Rangoon, and shouting democracy slogans.

James Mawdsley, 24, was cut free by police and taken in for questioning and troops were then brought in as he handed out leaflets, shouted slogans and spray-painted the Burmese word for "love and kindness" on the school wall.

His one-man protest took place on the eve of the anniversary of the current military regime taking power on 18 September 1988 and crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

Although the demonstration caused little commotion as uniformed and plain- clothes policemen kept passersby on the other side of the street, it was unprecedented in Burma, where the authorities keep a tight lid on dissent. The Foreign Office was holding urgent talks with the Burmese authorities last night.

Little public dissent has been seen in the streets of Rangoon since last December, when thousands of students demanding greater civil liberties took to the streets. University classes have been suspended since then. Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, has not spoken in public since a government-controlled mob attacked her car last November and is largely confined to her house.

Burma has been ruled by the military since 1962.