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Demonstrator Seeks Haven in British Embassy - 2003-04-04


Witnesses say an anti-government demonstration was held in Rangoon on Friday, April 4, at 9:30 a.m.

The demonstration took place along Strand Road in front of the British Embassy. Demonstrators shouted democracy slogans and distributed leaflets according to eyewitnesses. The leaflets distributed by Peoples’ Oway (Peacock) Student Front stated concerns over the deteriorating situation of the country.

Rangoon locals say a group of twenty monks and students took part in the demonstration. When authorities tried to arrest the demonstrators, some ran into the British Embassy compound. However, a Burmese government statement declared that "at 9:30 this morning two males, one of them in monk's robes, holding a fighting peacock flag started shouting in front of the embassy.'

The fighting peacock is the symbol of the pro-democracy movement, indicating that the two men were demonstrating against the Burmese military junta. The government statement continued, reporting that they "tried to disrupt peace, stability and tranquility," but did not elaborate.

The government reported that security personnel arrested the man in the monk's robes while the other ran into the embassy compound. Both men are believed to be from Pago town, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Rangoon.

Police interrogated the monk to find out if he has any links with a March 27 bomb explosion that took place about 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the British Embassy in downtown Rangoon. The statement said that "according to diplomats having the man inside the embassy could hurt the security," but did not explain why the embassy has not yet given him up to authorities.

He was still in the embassy eight hours after the incident, and government officials were negotiating with British diplomats to get him out, presumably to arrest him, sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

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