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Burma-unrest,sched-2ndlead : Tight

Subject: Burma-unrest,sched-2ndlead : Tight security in Burma                            ahead of Burmese New Year festivities

                           Burma-unrest,sched-2ndlead : Tight security in Burma
                           ahead of Burmese New Year festivities

                           RANGOON, April 2 (AFP) - Burma's military
authorities kept up tight
                           security measures here Wednesday in the wake of
unrest and
                           ahead of New Year festivities when huge crowds
will hit the

                           The caution came as Tin Oo, vice-chairman of Aung
San Suu Kyi's
                           National League for Democracy (NLD), reported
that nine party
                           members have been detained in the central Burmese
city of

                           The detained party members included Htin Gyaw, a
                           elected in 1990 to a parliament never convened by
the junta
                           because the NLD would have held more than 80
percent of the

                           A junta spokesman denied that party members had
been arrested,
                           and said he did not yet have information on
reports from a
                           Mandalay resident that 150 monks have been
disrobed since the
                           unrest between Buddhist monks and Moslems began in

                           Tin Oo said the arrests of NLD members were part
of ongoing
                           attempts to fabricate evidence that the party was
instigating unrest.

                           "These people happened to be in their living
quarters and came
                           out to see what was happening," and intelligence
personnel at the
                           demonstrations took their photographs so they
could cite an NLD
                           presence, Tin Oo said.

                           The All Burma Young Monks Union (ABYMU) said in a
                           received in Bangkok Wednesday that security
forces have killed
                           three monks and arrested 100 others since the

                           Tin Oo said monks have been arrested in Rangoon
and Mandalay,
                           but accurate numbers were unavailable, and the
party had not
                           heard of monks being killed.

                           "The government should publish a true and
accurate picture of
                           what actually happened," or such rumors would
continue to crop
                           up, he said, noting that local authorities
usually forced monks to
                           disrobe when they took them into custody.

                           "It is possible the authorities are using the
opportunity of these
                           disturbances to crack down on the monkhood," a
                           diplomat said.

                           Moslem residents of Rangoon remained
apprehensive, as many of
                           those who left the city have not yet returned,
and roadblocks were
                           still put up around the city every night,
witnesses said.

                           Government offices traditionally build "pandals,"
or makeshift
                           platforms on the roadsides, to stage
entertainment and to throw
                           water at passers-by during the Burmese New Year
festival to be
                           held April 13-17.

                           But the platforms at most government offices were

                           "The government seems a little bit cautious. They
normally try to
                           make the holiday very enjoyable, to let the
people blow off steam
                           and release their frustrations," one observer said.

                           During the celebrations, security forces usually
turn a blind eye to
                           public drinking and traffic violations and a deaf
ear to derogatory
                           comments about the authorities -- which at other
times would
                           never be tolerated -- intervening only to break
up drunken
                           altercations, he said. 

                           A spokesman for the junta said the platforms had
been removed
                           as past experience had shown they blocked streets
and caused
                           heavy traffic jams.

                           Big private sector platforms that stick well out
into the roads, like
                           the one built by Total, the French oil company,
were unaffected,

                           Communal unrest broke out in the central Burmese
town of
                           Mandalay on March 16, when groups of Buddhist
monks began
                           attacking Moslem properties, leaving a dozen
mosques destroyed. 

                           First degree security alerts were in place in
five cities, including
                           Rangoon, Mandalay and Sittwe, in Burma's
southwestern Arakan
                           State, where there is a high proportion of
Moslems, reports said.

                           Committees of senior monks, Moslem elders and
                           authorities have been formed to head off further
troubles, officials

                           The attacks began after Moslem suspects in the
attempted rape of
                           a Buddhist girl reached a settlement with the
authorities and were
                           set free.

                           The junta has blamed the troubles on opposition
elements out to
                           sabotage Burma's expected entry into the
Association of Southeast
                           Asian Nations (ASEAN), whose members include the
                           predominantly Moslem Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. 

                           But sources inside and outside the country said
the authorities had
                           created the communal disturbances to distract the
                           400,000 monks from their grievances with the