Thursday, September 27, 2007


Witnesses say security forces in Burma have launched raids on six monasteries and arrested hundreds of monks, as they try to stem a rising tide of protests.
About 200 Buddhist monks were reported to have been held when two monasteries in the east of the main city, Rangoon, were stormed overnight, witnesses said.
It comes a day after five people were reported killed when police broke up protests by monks and civilians.
The UN Security Council has called on Burma's military junta for restraint.

Key locations of Rangoon democracy protests
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During the raids on the monasteries, witnesses said soldiers smashed windows and doors and beat the sleeping monks.
Some escaped, but hundreds of monks were taken away in military trucks.
Two members of the National League for Democracy, the party led by pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, were also arrested.
There were also reports of raids in the north-east of the country.
In Rangoon, security forces have been setting up barbed wire barricades around Shwedagon Pagoda and Rangoon city hall, two of the focal points for the demonstrations.

The junta are using dirty tactics - they don't fire guns but beat people with rifle butts
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Accounts from Burma
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The British ambassador in Rangoon, Mark Canning, said soldiers and police had stepped up their presence.
"There are truckloads of troops in a number of locations - more than there seemed to be yesterday," he told the BBC.
"There are fire trucks, water canons positioned in a number of places - there are about three of them outside city hall. There are a number of prison vans also to be seen in certain places."
More demonstrations are expected - leaflets have been circulated throughout Rangoon urging people to come out and show solidarity with the monks.
UN debate
There are no indications yet that the military government is ready to listen to the many calls for restraint being made around the world, says the BBC's South East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council held an emergency meeting in New York.
The US and European Union wanted the council to consider imposing sanctions - but that was rejected by China as not "helpful".

China's crucial role in crisis
How will the junta respond?
Burma's saffron army

Instead, council members "expressed their concern vis-a-vis the situation, and have urged restraint, especially from the government of Myanmar," said France's UN ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert.
They welcomed a plan to send UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari to the region, and called on the Burmese authorities to receive him "as soon as possible".
China and Russia have argued the situation in Burma is a purely internal matter. Both vetoed a UN resolution critical of Burma's rulers in January.
Analysts fear a repeat of the violence in 1988, when troops opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing thousands.
The protests were triggered by the government's decision to double the price of fuel last month, hitting people hard in the impoverished nation.



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