Dozens of workers arrested during clampdown on labour rights march in Myanmar: Police

Police surround worker protesters  marching to protest over labor rights in TetKone on May 18, 2016.
Police surround worker protesters marching to protest over labor rights in TetKone on May 18, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

NAYPYIDAQ (AFP) - Myanmar police on Wednesday (May 18) arrested dozens of activists and factory workers as they broke up a labour rights march on the capital, the latest rally to test freedoms under Ms Aung San Suu Kyi's new civilian government.

Around 200 police officers moved in on the demonstrators, many wearing bamboo hats and waving banners calling for worker rights, as they entered the outskirts of Naypyidaw - where they hoped to speak to the government.

"We arrested about 60 protesters today. We tried to do it without hurting anyone," Naypyidaw police chief Ko Ko Aung told AFP. "We will not take further action against all of them, just those trying to cause violence."

Ms Suu Kyi's party is stacked with former dissidents who served prison time for their opposition to Myanmar's military governments during decades of repressive rule.

Since taking the helm following a landslide November election victory, the administration has freed scores of activists and political prisoners and signalled its determination to repeal oppressive laws.

But the police have launched legal action against activists involved in several recent demonstrations, and rights groups have expressed concern over efforts to amend draconian protest laws.