11/16/2007, 00.00
MYANMAR
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Junta pursues its media campaign against Aung San Suu Kyi and Burmese monks

Whilst the generals show signs of openness to the international community by freeing some political prisoners, government media every day publish articles by ethnic groups ostensibly against the pro-democracy leader and the actions of the monks. Most Burmese though see through the junta’s fictitious commitment to dialogue.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Mixed signals are coming from Myanmar. The military regime is showing some signs of openness towards the United Nations and the international community, whilst pursuing an incessant propaganda campaign via state media against the monk-led movement that dared challenge it in the streets in September as well as against pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, with whom the generals ostensibly say they want to talk. In the population however most are convinced that the government has no intention of starting a dialogue with the Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, nor with the country’s ethnic minorities.

Local sources have told AsiaNews that since UN Special Envoy Ibrahim Gambari revealed the content of a letter in which the Nobel prize laureate committed herself to defend all political groups, especially ethnic groups,” Myanmar papers are carrying articles signed by rebel groups rejecting her statement. These are small groups who have already signed cease-fire agreements with the authorities and are making statements dictated by the military, which controls every media channel.

Such articles not only say that Ms Suu Kyi does not represent them, but they also try to discredit the actions of the monks.

“We are certain that this is a clear sign that the junta is playing for time with the international community, taking paltry initiatives whilst nothing changes within,” some said in Yangon.

In the meantime the international media welcomed as a gesture of good will the decision by Myanmar authorities to free 75 people, including six political prisoners.

The regime’s decision comes after Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the United Nations human rights envoy, left the country following a five-day visit in which he was supposed to determine the extent of the government’s repression against monk-led peaceful protests.

Pinheiro, who could not meet junta strongman Than Shwe or Aung San Suu Kyi, announced that he would release his findings in two weeks time.

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