Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Too Bad Burma Doesn't have Any Oil

On second thought, it's just as well. Junior would only make things worse

Burma: UN envoy to meet Than Shwe as thousands of monks sent to remote jails

Last updated at 09:17am on 2nd October 2007

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari is due to meet Myanmar junta supremo Than Shwe today, to try to persuade him to end a crackdown on the biggest democracy protests in 20 years.

Dissident groups say up to 200 protesters have been killed as the junta brutally clamps down on protests, compared to the regime's report of 10 deaths, and 6,000 detained.

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monks burma

Slaughter: Executed monks have been dumped in the jungle

Despite agreeing to see Gambari, the generals appear deaf to the international calls for restraint, posting troops and police across Yangon and dispatching pro-junta gangs to raid homes in search of monks and dissidents on the run.

"They are going from apartment to apartment, shaking things inside, threatening the people. You have a climate of terror all over the city," a Bangkok-based Myanmar expert said.

US charge d'affaires Shari Villarosa said arrests continued unabated.

"We have heard that arrests are continuing at night, like at two o'clock in the morning. We've heard it's the military.

"I don't who is doing it, but people are going around in the middle of the night and taking people away," she said.

"People are terrified. This government keeps power through fear and intimidation and they are trying to intimidate people to stay off the streets."

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Tensions: People gather outside a temple after a police raid today

Gambari flew to the former Burma's new jungle capital to convey international outrage at last week's crushing of monk-led protests against decades of military rule and deepening poverty.

After three days in the country, during which he met three minister-generals and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains under house arrest, Gambari was told he would be able to meet Senior General Than Shwe.

The UN Security Council, which endorsed the former Nigerian foreign minister's emergency visit, is hoping the mission will kickstart some sort of dialogue between the junta - the latest face of 45 years of military rule - and Suu Kyi.

After Than Shwe, Gambari was expected to have a second meeting with the 62-year-old Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi, kindling hopes of some sort of "shuttle diplomacy".

But as attempts at talks continue, it was revealed that thousands of monks detained in Burma's biggest city will be sent to prisons in the far north.

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Checkpoint: Police outside the house of opposition leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi today

Executed: The body of a Buddhist monk floats in a river

About 4,000 monks have been rounded up in the past week as the military government has tried to stamp out pro-democracy protests.

They are being held at a disused race course and a technical college.

Sources from a government-sponsored militia said they would soon be moved away from Rangoon.

The detained monks have been disrobed and shackled, according to sources quoted by BBC Radio's Burmese service.

The reports follow claims from a former intelligence officer in Burma's ruling junta that thousands of protesters have been killed and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle.

Public anger ignited on August 19 after the government increased fuel prices, then shifted into protests led by Buddhist monks against 45 years of military dictatorship.

Soldiers responded last week by opening fire on unarmed demonstrators. The demonstrations have now died down.

Burma's junta leader Than Shwe yesterday stalled a UN envoy, putting off hearing international demands for an end to the crackdown on democracy advocates.

News of the jailings comes after a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta revealed the true extent of killings to clamp down on protests.

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Monks protesting in Burma

Protests: But the situation inside Burma remains unclear

The most senior official to defect so far, Hla Win, said: "Many more people have been killed in recent days than you've heard about. The bodies can be counted in several thousand."

Mr Win said he fled when he was ordered to take part in a massacre of holy men.

His defection will raise a faint hope among tens of thousands of Burmese who have fled to villages along the Thai border.

They will feel others in the army may follow him and turn on their ageing leaders, Senior General Than Shwe and his deputy, Vice Senior General Maung Aye

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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