Burma Tense As Junta Evicts Residents

2007-10-05
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Fears are growing that food aid to Burma could be disrupted by the current crackdown. Officials in Mae La refugee camp along the Thai border fear a sharp rise in the number of those fleeing the country. Video: AFP >> Watch the video

BANGKOK-Burmese residents described nighttime raids on their homes and an atmosphere full of fear as a U.N. envoy warned the military regime that it would face international opprobrium for the violent crackdown.

"Around 2 in the morning they came with their trucks and woke up everyone in the houses and told them to get out of their houses," a resident of Rangoon's Yaydashay Road district told RFA's Burmese service.

"They left only old people in the houses. Those who'd been asked to leave the houses were asked to bring three sets of clothing. I don't know where they were taken. They were all put onto the trucks and taken away with their heads bowed, and their hands on their heads."

He said soldiers, police, and local government officials, together with members of pro-government groups, had bundled his neighbors onto two trucks in the dead of night.

"They told people, 'Get out of your houses.' They left only old people. They took away all of the women and husbands and wives. They took all of the younger ones away," the man said.

"Currently, of course people are nervous. Everyone must move or else they'd be detained. Everything is quiet and the roads are clear. Everyone is scared. We don't know whom we are supposed to be afraid of. We're just afraid of everyone."

U.N. envoy Ibrahim Gambari, addressing the Security Council after a four-day visit to Burma, called for the release of all political prisoners there and voiced concern at reports of continuing government abuses after last week's huge protests.

Around 2 in the morning they came with their trucks and woke up everyone in the houses and told them to get out of their houses.

"Of great concern to the United Nations and the international community are the continuing and disturbing reports of abuses being committed by security and non-uniformed elements, particularly at night during curfew, including raids on private homes, beatings, arbitrary arrests, and disappearances," Gambari told the council.

He said the junta must recognize that its ruthless crackdown on Buddhist monk-led protests that brought tens of thousands onto the streets of Rangoon, Sittwe, and Mandalay could have "serious international repercussions."

However, sanctions in the U.N. Security Council proposed by the United States looked set to be vetoed by Burma's neighbor and ally, China.

Offer of talks rejected

Meanwhile, opposition party supporters in Rangoon rejected the junta's offer of talks with National League for Democracy (NLD) leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, saying it was tantamount to asking her to abandon the campaign for democracy.

Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party won a landslide election victory in 1990, has spent 12 of the last 18 years in detention after the military regime ignored her result at the polls.

"They are asking her to confess to offenses that she has not committed," NLD spokesman Nyan Win said.

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September, 2007. Armed Burmese security forces in Rangoon. AFP

Than Shwe, head of the latest junta in 45 unbroken years of military rule of the former Burma, set out his conditions for direct talks at a meeting with Gambari on Tuesday, saying that Aung San Suu Kyi must abandon "confrontation," and give up "obstructive measures" and support for sanctions and "utter devastation," according to state media.

Some sources estimated that around 2,000 people had now been detained, including several prominent NLD members.

The crackdown meanwhile sparked fresh outrage abroad, prompting protests outside Burmese embassies around the world, and an online campaign against the military regime.

State-run media say at least 10 people have been killed after the ruling junta’s violent suppression of protests by Buddhist monks, which had been building since mid-August against 45 years of military rule.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and many others have said they fear the loss of life is much higher.

Original reporting by RFA’s Burmese service in Washington and Bangkok. Translation by Than Than Win. Edited by Khin Maung Nyane. Service director: Nancy Shwe. Executive producer: Susan Lavery. Written and produced for the Web by Luisetta Mudie and Sarah Jackson-Han.

Original reporting in Burmese

Blog: RFA Unplugged

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