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Fresh fuel protests held in Burma

Further protests have been held in Burma over fuel price rises, despite the arrest of more than 60 activists by the military since last week. The low-key demonstrations involved some 30 people in Rangoon and up to 200 monks in the western port of Sittwe.

But analysts say it is remarkable they are happening at all, given the army’s crackdown on last week’s protests.

The fuel price rise, in the case of cooking gas by 500%, has enraged a population already living in poverty.

In addition to deploying soldiers and armed police, the government has sent gangs of thugs, some allegedly recently released criminals, to attack the protestors and drag away their leaders.

The dozens of activists now thought to be in custody include some of Burma’s best known dissidents.

The mainly novice monks in Sittwe were not stopped from protesting, according to local residents.

Their involvement must worry the government, echoing the widespread involvement of monks in the 1988 uprising that came close to overthrowing military rule.

Some Burmese are speculating that the fuel price rise was a deliberate move to provoke a crisis, perhaps reflecting disagreements within the ruling military council.

But with such a heavy security presence now on the streets of all the main towns, it will be difficult for any activists to keep their protest movement going.

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