RANGOON, Burma - Burma security forces have arrested two prominent antigovernment activists - a Buddhist monk and a labor rights advocate, fellow dissidents said yesterday.
News of their arrests came as UN human rights investigator Paulo Sergio Pinheiro was on the third day of a five-day mission to investigate human rights conditions following the government's violent crackdown on prodemocracy protests in September.
U Gambira, a Buddhist monk who helped spearhead prodemocracy demonstrations in Rangoon that were crushed by the military junta, was arrested several days ago, exiled Burma dissidents in Thailand said.
Su Su Nway, a prominent female activist who has been on the run for more than two months, was arrested yesterday morning in Rangoon, they said.
U Gambira, also known as U Gambiya, was a leader of the All-Burma Monks alliance, a group established to support prodemocracy protests after small demonstrations began in August.
Monks inspired and led the movement until it was crushed Sept. 26 through 27. The authorities began their crackdown by raiding several monasteries in Rangoon, Burma's biggest city, in the middle of the night and taking the monks away.
Activists who have just arrived at the Burma-Thailand border confirmed that U Gambira had been arrested, said Stanley Aung of the Thailand-based dissident group National League for Democracy-Liberated Area.
"I am very worried about U Gambira," said Bo Kyi, head of the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, based in Thailand. "I fear he will be tortured."
In an e-mail to the Associated Press, Bo Kyi appealed to Pinheiro to meet with U Gambira before he leaves Burma.
Other dissident groups also reported U Gambira's arrest, although details differed. Some said he was arrested Nov. 4, the same day an article he wrote was published in the
"We adhere to nonviolence, but our spine is made of steel. There is no turning back. It matters little if my life or the lives of colleagues should be sacrificed on this journey. Others will fill our sandals, and more will join and follow," he wrote.
Another account said he lost touch with colleagues Nov. 10. He has been active in publicizing his cause abroad, apparently using a satellite phone.