YANGON, Myanmar – Residents of Myanmar's biggest city, Yangon, are keeping up a low-key resistance against the country's military regime, harassing soldiers by tossing rocks at them at night, student activists said Monday.
Security forces have responded to the activities, which have taken place over the past two to three days, by detaining the rock throwers they catch after curfew, they said.
In some cases, members of the families of those detained — including children — have also been detained, the activists said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of arrest.
No figures were available on the number of people engaging in such activities or how many may have been detained. The reports came as the government has announced numbers of those detained in connection with the anti-regime protests of the past few weeks.
Myanmar authorities also said weapons had been seized from Buddhist monasteries and announced dozens of new arrests, despite global outrage over the junta's violent repression of protesters who sought an end to 45 years of military dictatorship.
Recent raids on monasteries turned up 18 knives, one ax, slingshots and one 9mm bullet, though it was not yet clear to whom they belonged, according to state-run The New Light of Myanmar newspaper on Monday. The government threatened to punish any monks that violate the law, stepping up pressure on clerics who led the protests.
In a commentary, the newspaper stressed that those arrested during the unrest would be treated as criminals rather than political prisoners.
"Supporters of the protest who claim themselves pro-democracy activists will not be pardoned if they break the law, as no man is above the law," the paper said on its comments page. "Those who are found guilty of breaking the law will be imprisoned."
State media including The New Light of Myanmar newspaper are only propaganda organs and not taken seriously in Myanmar, said Soe Aung, a spokesman for the National Council of the Union of Burma, a coalition of opposition groups based in neighboring Thailand.
"The government newspaper is not read by most people. It is used for wrapping paper," he said in a telephone interview.
Security has eased in the largest city of Yangon more than a week after soldiers and police opened fire on demonstrators. Some roadblocks were removed and visitors began trickling back to the heavily guarded Shwedagon and Sule pagodas, the starting and finishing points of protests that began in mid-August over a sharp fuel price increase.
The junta says at least 10 people were killed in a crackdown Sept. 26-27 — though independent sources say the toll was likely much higher — and that some 1,000 remain in detention centers.
At least 135 monks are being held, according to The New Light of Myanmar.
In addition, 78 more people suspected of involvement in the rallies were being questioned by investigators, it said.
Inspired by the participation of monks, who are revered in the country, thousands of people turned out for the protests last month, the biggest in nearly two decades against brutal military rule. The junta's bloody crackdown sparked international condemnation — including from its Southeast Asian neighbors.
The military has ruled Myanmar since 1962. The current junta came to power after routing a 1988 pro-democracy uprising, killing at least 3,000 people.