Myanmar defies world pressure

Military government vows to "march on" despite aid cut and tougher sanctions.

    Gambari has called on Myanmar to
    stop arresting dissidents [Reuters]
    Tuesday's response came amid growing international pressure on the military government to halt its repression and launch talks with the opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
     
    Japan cuts aid
     

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    Japan, one of Myanmar's main donors, said it was cancelling grants of about $4.7m after the military shot dead a Japanese journalist when government forces put down last month's massive protests.
     
    Nobutaka Machimura, the chief cabinet secretary, said the decision was made in response to the violent crackdown on protesters and followed the UN's statement condemning the violence.
     
    The centre was supposed to offer economics, management and Japanese language courses to promote bilateral ties and economic reform in Myanmar, according to Japan's foreign ministry.
     
    On Monday, European Union foreign ministers approved a new set of sanctions against the military government, including an embargo on the export of wood, gems and metals. They also threatened further penalties.
     
    George Bush, the US president whose administration has imposed sanctions against military leaders, called for "enormous international pressure, to make it clear to the generals that they will be completely isolated and not accepted into the international community".
     
    Staying the course
     
    But Myanmar vowed to resist, saying in state media: "We will march on. There is no reason to change the course.
     
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    Al Jazeera's Tony Birtley undercover in Myanmar

    "We will remove all the hindrances and obstacles that may lie ahead," the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.
     
    The military has eased its curfew and restored partial internet access – though not to foreign news sites – but government forces have kept up the pressure on dissidents, arresting six more activists over the weekend, rights group Amnesty International said.
     
    Ibrahim Gambari, the UN special envoy to Myanmar, called the latest arrests "extremely disturbing" when he met Thai officials in Bangkok on Monday at the start of a regional tour aimed at building pressure on the government.
     
    The diplomat who is in Malaysia on Tuesday before continuing to Indonesia, India, China and Japan, called on Myanmar to halt the arrests.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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