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Myanmar junta says nearly 3,000 arrested during protest crackdown

[JURIST] Officials in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] have arrested close to 3,000 people for participating in recent peaceful protests, the junta said in a statement published Wednesday in the state-run New Light of Myanmar [official website]. The junta also said that the 500 people still in detention were those who organized or supported "unrest" and will remain there until interrogated. Those who have been released were forced to sign a "pledge," an item the government left unexplained in the announcement.

Myanmar has been sharply criticized for its crackdown on pro-democracy protests, including a recent statement by UN Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar Ibrahim Gambari slamming Myanmar's detention of four more pro-democracy activists [JURIST reports]. The latest detainees, all members of the 1988 Generation Students group [BBC backgrounder], were detained after Myanmar's military government rejected a UN Security Council statement [text; UN News report] denouncing the country's violent reaction against peaceful demonstrators. Myanmar also rejected the UN Security Council's call for the military junta to release political prisoners and negotiate with the opposition National League for Democracy. The military government has reported only 10 deaths linked to the protests, while dissident groups have suggested that some hundreds and perhaps even thousands have been killed. AP has more.

1:16 PM ET - A source from Myanmar's Buddhist community said Wednesday that monk Eik Darea has been sentenced to seven and a half years in prison after being convicted of inciting public unrest and illegal association for his participation in the protests. In what is the first known sentencing in connection to the protest arrests, the monk was also defrocked and may be sent to a labor camp. Reuters has more.

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