UN to discuss Myanmar response

Diplomats debate action as funeral held for Japan reporter killed in crackdown.

    Protests around the world have called for tougher UN action against Myanmar's rulers [Reuters]

    It also calls for the immediate release of thousands of detainees rounded up in the wake of the crackdown, as well as political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, the opposition leader who has been under house arrest for most of the past 14 years.


    The weekend saw a series of demonstrations around the world in support of Myanmar's crushed pro-democracy protests.


    But despite mounting international outrage, any move by the UN to toughen sanctions against Myanmar is likely to be resisted by China and Russia.


    Myanmar protests


    Military tightens grip on Yangon


    Protesters 'not afraid to die'

    Bloggers tell their story

    Speaking out on Myanmar

    The monks' demands

    Myanmar's media in exile

    Protest timeline

    Video: On the ground in Yangon

    Both countries – which hold veto power at the Security Council - have said they consider the situation in Myanmar to be an internal matter which poses no threat to regional or international peace and security.


    On Friday China, Myanmar's biggest trading partner, warned that putting pressure on the military government "would lead to confrontation".


    Wang Guangya, the Chinese envoy to the UN, called for "a prudent and responsible approach" warning that "external intervention" could worsen the situation in Myanmar and cause the people to "bear the brunt" of it.




    The deliberations at the UN come after the funeral was held in Japan of Kenji Nagai, who was killed when soldiers opened fire on thousands of protesters in Yangon.


    Nagai's funeral in central Tokyo was attended by hundreds of Myanmar exiles living in Japan.


    Hundreds of Myanmar exiles living in Japan
    attended Kenji Nagai's funeral [AFP]

    Mathidawin Kyaw, a 40-year-old Myanmar national who sought asylum in Japan almost two decades ago, told reporters: "As a Burmese, I feel ashamed of the military. I would like to say to Nagai 'we're sorry'."


    Japan, Myanmar's biggest aid donor, has threatened to cut back assistance if Nagai's shooting is not fully investigated.


    Witnesses said Nagai, 50, was shot at point blank range as government troops moved against protesters on September 27. But Myanmar's government has said the killing was an accident.


    The results of a Japanese autopsy carried out on Nagai's body have yet to be made public.


    Japan has also insisted that Myanmar authorities must return a video camera Nagai was using at the time but which was missing from the personal effects retuned by Myanmar officials.




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    Last week the UN's special envoy to Myanmar, Ibrahim Gambari, briefed Security Council members on the outcome of his recent visit to Myanmar which was hastily-arranged after the government crackdown.


    Gambari, who met Aung San Suu Kyi twice during his four-day visit, said the demonstrations were mostly triggered by deep and widespread discontent about poverty in the country.


    Following Gambari's visit, Myanmar's military leader, General Than Shwe, suggested he was prepared to hold talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, but under strict conditions.


    On Sunday, Malaysia's foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar urged Myanmar's rulers to drop those conditions and begin talks as soon as possible.


    "Let there be a meeting without any preconditions to discuss the future of Myanmar before the international community enforces stronger pressure," he was quoted as saying by the national news agency Bernama.


    He said Malaysia disagrees with any attempt to implement economic sanctions or military action against Myanmar, stressing the situation in Myanmar was "an issue of the violation of laws and basic human rights, not a threat toward international peace and security".


    Syed Hamid's comments followed a warning from the US that it would push for UN sanctions and an arms embargo against Myanmar if it fails to make urgent moves toward democracy.


    'Weapons seized'


    Gambari, left, held talks with Myanmar's
    military rulers [Reuters]

    In Myanmar itself state media reported on Monday dozens more Buddhist monks had been arrested and a cache of weapons seized during raids by security forces on several monasteries.


    The New Light of Myanmar newspaper, regarded as a government mouthpiece, quoted authorities as saying the raids had turned up 18 knives, one axe, slingshots and one 9mm bullet.


    The article said "monks must adhere to the laws of God and the government. If they violate those laws, action could be taken against them".


    The government says at least 10 people were killed in the military crackdown, but human rights groups say the toll is much higher, with some 1,000 people being held in detention centres.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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