BANGKOK—A group of unidentified Burmese people has staged a brief, rare protest outside the U.S. Embassy in the former capital Rangoon against a U.S.-backed resolution in the United Nations Security Council, a source close to the embassy said.
“A group of about 30 individuals walked past the Embassy holding banners,” the source said. “They dropped the banners which were criticizing U.S. policy in front of the security barrier in front of the Embassy, and they departed.”
“The demonstration lasted about five minutes. They are very short, generally, these demonstrations, and again, it's happened over the last couple of days,” the source added.
A second eyewitness said there were video cameras and photographers recording the event, in spite of its limited size and brevity, but that foreign news media in Rangoon hadn’t been notified and arrived too late to cover the event.
The demonstration lasted about five minutes. They are very short, generally, these demonstrations, and again, it's happened over the last couple of days.
Some of the placards read “Evil, go away!” and were left on the pavement after the brief protest.
A U.S. Embassy official called on Burma's secretive military junta to allow freedom of expression for all. “The U.S. supports freedom of expression in Burma and elsewhere in the world,” the official said.
“Sadly, the Burmese regime continues to repress the democratic movement in Burma, and the U.S. calls on the Burmese regime to respect the rights of Burmese citizens, including the freedom of expression for all,” he said.
The British Embassy in Burma said it welcomed peaceful protest and hoped this week’s demonstrations might signify a more relaxed attitude toward protest in general among the Burmese authorities. “Peaceful public expression of political opinions, however they might be orchestrated, is something which we welcome,” the embassy said.
The draft resolution was put before the Security Council in January but was vetoed by China and Russia, according to a report on the U.N. Radio Web site.
If passed, the resolution would have called on the Government of Myanmar, another name for Burma, to release all political prisoners; cease military attacks against civilians in ethnic minority regions, and begin a political dialogue that would lead to a genuine democracy.
China's Security Council representative, Ambassador Wang Guangya, said the Security Council was the wrong place to discuss Burma.
“Of course there are problems in Myanmar, but we believe that these problems do not constitute a threat to regional or international peace and security. So therefore, we are against including this issue on the agenda of the Security Council.”
Russia for its part said “attempts aimed at using the Security Council to discuss issues outside its purview are unacceptable.”
Original reporting in Burmese by U Sein Kyaw Hlaing and Min Zin. Translated by Ba Aung. Edited by Khin May Zaw. Service director: Nancy Shwe. Written and produced for the Web in English by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Sarah Jackson-Han.