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'Junta suppressed death tolls of crackdown'

A US-based human rights watchdog accuses the Myanmar Govt of suppressing the number of people killed and detained during "violent" crackdown on Buddhist monks.

world Updated: Dec 08, 2007 10:04 IST

A US-based human rights watchdog has accused the Myanmar government of suppressing the number of people killed and detained during "violent" crackdown on pro-democracy protests by Buddhist monks and others seeking an end to the military regime.

Many more people were killed and detained than the Myanmar government has admitted and since then, the regime has "brought to bear the full force of its authoritarian apparatus to intimidate all opposition, hunting down protest leaders in night raids and defrocking monks," Human Rights Watch said in a just released 140-page report.

It called for greater international action, including by the United Nations Security Council, to press the Myanmar government to undertake major reforms.

The report criticises the "lack of action" by countries with good relations and influence on Myanmar, such as China, India, Russia, Thailand, and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations members.

It regretted that China has made it clear that it will not allow the UN Security Council to take up the issue in any meaningful way and that Japan has reacted "timidly" to the killing of its journalist.

"It's time for the world to impose a UN arms embargo and financial sanctions, to hurt Burma's leaders until they make real changes," said Adams. "Countries like China, India and Thailand have the responsibility to take action to help hold the generals accountable and to end this long nightmare of military repression."

The bill bans the importation of Burmese jade and rubies into the United States and freezes the assets of Burmese political and military leaders.

It also prevents Burma from using US financial institutions via third countries to launder the funds of those leaders or their immediate families, and prohibits Burmese officials involved in the violent suppression of protesters from receiving visas to the US.

The Foreign Affairs Committee approved the legislation in October and the House is expected to take up the legislation next week. "As we commemorate International Human Rights Day, those who support the fundamental rights of all humankind must take a stand to prevent barbarism like what we have recently seen in Burma," Lantos said.

"From Cuba to Caracas, in Darfur and Tehran, violence such as this is continuing. We need to take a clear position against such acts of brutality and stand up for human rights in these places, just as we stand with the people of Burma today," he added.