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Myanmar junta swipes at US over rights report

The military junta accused Washington of fabricating allegations to pressure and smear the image of the Southeast Asian country.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Yangon
UPDATED ON MAR 10, 2007 01:18 PM IST

Military-run Myanmar Saturday rejected a United States human rights report condemning the regime and accused Washington of fabricating allegations to pressure and smear the image of the Southeast Asian country.

"As in the past, the report once again carried a litany of unfounded and unsubstantial allegations of human rights violations in Myanmar," the foreign ministry said in the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

"The report is also a part of the US strategy to exert more pressure on Myanmar in pursuit of its own political agenda," it said, calling the report part of Washington's campaign to "smear and tarnish" the image of Myanmar.

In its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006, the US State Department said on Tuesday Myanmar's human rights record had "worsened" during the year, with the regime continuing to commit serious rights abuses including extrajudicial killings, rape and torture.

The US report came as the junta arrested seven people over last month's protest demanding better living conditions, the first public demonstration against the military regime in a decade.

The report also came less than two months after the US pushed a United Nations resolution condemning the junta into the Security Council, where it was vetoed by China, one of Myanmar's allies, and Russia.

The junta said Saturday the US would "use all multilateral avenues" to pressure the country formerly known as Burma, "following its failed attempt to pass a resolution on Myanmar at the UN Security Council."

The UN has estimated there are some 1,100 political prisoners in Myanmar, a claim rejected by the junta, which has ruled the isolated country since 1962.

Myanmar, one of the world's poorest nations, is also subject to US and European economic sanctions due to human rights abuses and the house arrest of 61-year-old democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Nobel peace laureate has been under house arrest in Yangon for most of the past 17 years.

Apart from her live-in maid, Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar's opposition National League for Democracy, is allowed no contact with the outside world, except for monthly visits from her doctor.

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