BURMA RESPONDS TO RFA REPORT ON ATTACKS


2003-09-08
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Chinese official news agency carries government statement

Burma's ruling junta has attacked a report by RFA detailing up to 100 deaths and an unknown number of rapes in a carefully organized terror campaign leading up to May 30, when government-led gangs attacked the convoy of opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

A government statement reported prominently by the official Chinese news agency Xinhua said the reports were similar to earlier claims made by the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon. It said it would "leave the reliability of these sources to be judged by the international community."

Earlier, the Burmese government also attacked economic sanctions imposed by Washington in response to the continued detention of the leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD). China has also opposed "interference" by the international community in Burma's internal affairs.

The U.S. State Department reported last week that Aung San Suu Kyi was on hunger strike in protest at her continued detention, but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) later said the NLD leader was not fasting when a representative visited her.

Rangoon's statement said that Burma had been "persevering under intense meddling" in its internal affairs by the United States for years.

"Whether the United States has any concern for the welfare of the mass population of the country when it imposed economic sanctions on any particular nation under the much-abused and misused pretext of democracy and human rights will be judged by the world," it said.

"If democracy is the United States' priority, there are many far more important venues and issues it could pay attention to rather than a small country like [Burma]," said the statement, as reported by Xinhua.

Meanwhile, United Nations special envoy Razali Ismail called for Burma's new prime minister to be given a chance to deliver on a promised "road map to democracy" announced last week.

His comments came a day after protesters across Asia demanded the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, as she marked 100 days in detention Sunday.

Thailand gave a cautious welcome to the announcement that Rangoon would form a commission to oversee the drafting of its new constitution but said Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party should participate in the process.

Rangoon suspended work on its constitution in 1996 following a boycott by the NLD.

Khin Nyunt, who was named prime minister last month in a Cabinet reshuffle, announced his "road map" on Aug. 30, but neither offered to hold talks with the NLD nor set a timetable for progress towards democratic elections.

Khin Nyunt has been one of the key generals running the military government since pro-democracy demonstrations were crushed in bloodshed in 1988. He has long been the head of military intelligence. The NLD won a national election more than a decade ago, but the junta refused to yield power.

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