Myanmar's military rulers have detained 218 people over anti-junta protests that erupted five weeks ago, sometimes subjecting them to beatings during interrogations, a watchdog said Monday.
Most of those arrested were members of Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party or part of the 88 Generation Student Movement that kicked off the protests on August 19, he said.
Buddhist monks on Sunday launched the biggest challenge against
Myanmar's military rule in nearly two decades emboldened after a march to see the country's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
The swelling protests in Myanmar followed a landmark day Saturday, when the army allowed about 2,000 monks and civilians to pass a roadblock and gather by the lakeside Yangon house which has been Aung San Suu Kyi's prison for 12 of the past 18 years.
What began as a protest against economic hardship has now grown, with marches against military rule attracting tens of thousands of young monks to the streets of Yangon and other cities since Tuesday.
The 62-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, has become an internationally recognized symbol of non-violent political change since her National League for Democracy won 1990 elections by a landslide -- a result never recognized by the military.
International rights groups have alleged abuse and torture were rampant in Myanmar's prisons. The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has not been allowed to visit any prisons there since December 2005.