Myanmar's ruling military junta detained 13 opposition party members who called for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi as she marked her 63rd birthday Thursday, witnesses said.
The 13 people were taken into a truck after dozens of Suu Kyi's supporters gathered outside the National League for Democracy party's headquarters in Yangon, witnesses said on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.
Some of those detained were punched and beaten before being taken away, they said.
The protesters shouted slogans calling for the government to immediately release Suu Kyi, who they said "has been unfairly detained."
A Buddhist monk was also arrested, according to a government official who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press. The circumstances of his detention were not clear.
House arrest extended
Last month, the junta extended the house arrest of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for a sixth year, despite international protests.
The Suu Kyi supporters dispersed Thursday — some running back into party headquarters — after more than a hundred pro-junta thugs approached in six trucks.
Security was tight around both the party headquarters and near her home, with extra barricades at both locations.
Some 40 plainclothes security officials and other pro-junta men were stationed around the headquarters.
When a group of Buddhist nuns stood outside the headquarters to pray, some security officials videotaped them.
Earlier in the day, the party celebrated Suu Kyi's birthday by offering meals to Buddhist monks
at the headquarters, several miles from her home.
Suu Kyi offered yellow roses at Yangon's famous Shwedagon pagoda through a member of her political party.
Roses for each year
Party member Myint Soe, who buys and brings food daily for Suu Kyi, offered 64 roses at the soaring Buddhist shrine, signifying the beginning of her 64th year, party sources said.
He also laid 64 yellow chrysanthemums at the tomb of Khin Kyi, Suu Kyi's mother and the wife of Myanmar independence hero Gen. Aung San. The tomb is located at the foot of the Shwedagon pagoda.
A neighbor said Suu Kyi spent a quiet birthday inside her lakeside compound.
"Her compound is quiet. So far no visitors have come to bless her, no monks have come to accept alms," said the neighbor, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.
Suu Kyi has spent more than 12 of the last 18 years under detention. Her party swept national elections in 1990 but the ruling junta refused to honor the results.