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Dissidents press for UN sanctions

Myanmar dissidents urged the UN Security Council on Tuesday to slap an arms embargo and other sanctions on their country's ruling junta.

world Updated: Oct 16, 2007 21:13 IST

Myanmar dissidents urged the UN Security Council Tuesday to slap an arms embargo and other sanctions on their country's ruling junta, and to demand an immediate end to repression and detentions of political prisoners.

In a letter sent to the 15-member council and to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, a copy of which was received by AFP, the 88 Generation Students called for "a binding resolution with targeted sanctions such as an investment ban and an arms embargo" and appealed to China and Russia not to veto it.

The group is made up of veteran student leaders who spearheaded a 1988 uprising against Myanmar's military regime.

The letter also urges Ban to send his special envoy Ibrahim Gambari immediately back to Myanmar and ask him "to stay (there) as long as necessary to facilitate a meaningful political dialogue.

It also calls on Ban to telephone Myanmar's senior General Than Shwe and press him to end "the torture of those currently being detained and to fulfill the demands made by the Security Council ... without further delay."

Last Thursday, the Security Council unanimously adopted a non-binding statement strongly deploring the crackdown on dissent in Myanmar and urging the release of detained protesters and political prisoners.

And it also appealed to the ruling junta to "create the necessary conditions, for a genuine dialogue" with opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi "in order to achieve an inclusive national reconciliation with the direct support of the United Nations."

The 88 Generation Students said the day after the council statement was adopted, three of their remaining leaders -- Htay Kywe, Aung Thu and Thin Thin Aye (aka) Mie Mie -- were arrested by security forces.

The group said the military also arrested many activists throughout Myanmar while thousands of students, civil servants and civilians were forced to attend mass rallies organized by the regime to denounce the anti-government protests.

"As long as an effective action from the internatonal community is delayed, Burma continues to be a lawless society and the regime will continue to kill peaceful demonstrators systematically and quietly in torture chambers," the letter said.

It was signed by Tun Myint Aung, Nilar Thein and Soe Htun, three leaders reprited to be in hiding in Yangon.

The letter was smuggled out of the country, according to dissident sources in the United States.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, cracked down on protests in late September after Buddhist monks joined the movement, bringing popular support to the campaign and drawing up to 100,000 people into the streets.

At least 13 people died in the crackdown, sparking international outrage.