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YANGON (Reuters) - Burma's junta released 80 monks rounded up last week in a crackdown on the biggest anti-government protests in nearly 20 years, one of those freed said on Wednesday.
The monk, in his mid-20s but too nervous to give any more details of his identity, said he and 79 brethren were returned to their Mingala Yama monastery in Yangon shortly after midnight.
The remaining 16 of 96 arrested during a raid on the monastery -- among hundreds arrested in similar raids on at least 15 Yangon monasteries -- were expected to be freed soon, he said.
Pinheiro said his trip would be different than Gambari's visit in that it would be "more fact-finding" than official dialogue.
According to Norway's Foreign Ministry (UD) Major Htaly Win will present his case there on Thursday.
"But we have heard that at least 200 people are dead. But the soldiers I had control over shot no civilians while I was there," Win said.
There are rumors of massacres and mass arrests today in Myanmar. Journalists are banned from the country making it difficult to get accurate information. Times of London reporter Nick Meo, who is following the ongoing conflict from the Myanmar-Thailand border, speaks with Alex Chadwick about the protest, crackdown and the difficulties covering the events.
Much like Myanmar's former kings, they see themselves as the only ones capable of ruling, and their army as the only force that can transform the country into a modern state.
Anyone questioning their 45 years of supremacy, whether a lone protester or tens of thousands on the streets of Yangon, is simply seen as a threat and dealt with the same brute force.
“At this critical juncture, I urge the United States government to work with China, India, Japan, the members of ASEAN and the world community on a strong, coordinated approach to encourage peaceful change in Burma and meet the enormous humanitarian needs of the Burmese people. I call on the Government of Burma to immediately release all political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, and to cooperate fully with the UN Special Adviser Ibrahim Gambari so that he might continue his efforts to promote dialogue and national reconciliation.”
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
UNITED STATES SENATE
ONE HUNDRED TENTH CONGRESS
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Time: 2:30 PM
Place: 419 The Dirksen Senate Office Building
Presiding: Senator Boxer
October 3, 2007 - For the first time, an outraged United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned the Burmese military junta for its violent crackdown on protesters and demanded it be allowed to immediately investigate the situation in Burma.
The Council, which held a special session on the human rights situation in Burma on Tuesday, passed a resolution that demanded the junta allow a special Rapporteur to investigate it.
The resolution said it "strongly deplores continued violent repression of peaceful demonstrators in Burma, including beatings, killings, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances."
"The council calls on the government of Burma to allow Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights, to visit Burma and investigate the situation," Aung Myo Min, a Burmese human rights activists, attending the special session on Burma at the council's fifth meeting, told Mizzima.
Scores of monks are trying to leave Burma's main city, Rangoon, following the military's bloody crackdown on anti-government protests, reports say.
Monks were seen at the railway station and bus drivers were reportedly refusing to take them, out of fear they would not be allowed petrol.
Curfews and night-time police raids are continuing in Rangoon. Correspondents describe a climate of fear there.
Military vehicles patrolled Rangoon's streets before dawn with loudspeakers blaring: "We have photographs. We are going to make arrests."
One correspondent in Rangoon told the BBC that people in the country's former capital were angry and frightened.
The correspondent described how a middle-aged man in one of the city's tea shops whispered: "I really want change - but they have guns and we don't, so they'll always win."
Reports from Rangoon said around 25 more monks were arrested by security forces in a raid on a temple overnight.
Update Ex- Burmese Soldier Reports
A Dutch website has released new footage of the violent crackdown in Burma. The images are complemented by the commentary of an ex Burmese soldier who witnessed the violence from up close.
The video can be watched here(Dutch subtitles)
Update with Translation. The Burmese soldier says the army shoots citizens and uses tear gas. The executers or the leaders of the military however, doe not receive any punishment for their actions. Soldiers are even forced to beat their own families. A representative of Human Right Watch says that he expects the military to fall apart internally. He argues that the brutalities will increasingly lead to soldiers escaping from the order and the military.
An international aid worker who witnessed the bloody crackdown on weekend pro-democracy demonstrations in Myanmar told CNN she saw bodies lying in the street in front of a pagoda dedicated to world peace, possibly as a warning from the government's security forces.
"There was a body lying on the road, there was another body slumped over the back of the truck," said the woman, who did not want to be identified for security reasons.
"There were crowds gathered approximately 400 meters away but they were not coming closer to help out. And it just looked like (the bodies) had been left there for people to witness, for people to see what they were capable of."
She said the bodies were near Yangon's Kaba Aye pagoda, a gold-domed Buddhist shrine. Kaba Aye means world peace in Burmese.
Saturday's demonstration was a complete turnaround from demonstrations in previous days which were largely peaceful, she said.
She said "there were no military around" during protests she witnessed on Sept. 24.
Special envoy Ibrahim Gambari was scheduled to sit down with Ban on Thursday to report on his four-day trip to the Southeast Asian nation, where troops quelled mass protests with gunfire last week and continued to round up suspected activists.
Asked about Gambari's visit, Ban said, "You cannot call it a success."