10/11/2007, 00.00
MYANMAR

UN, EU and US have not shaken the Beijing-backed military junta

After days of discussion the UN Security Council approves a non-binding declaration condemning the Burmese regime. US threatens sanctions; EU is set to discuss what to do next Monday. In Mandalay soldiers roam the streets and government media continue to blame Western powers for the crisis.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Condemnations by the United Nations and threats of sanctions by the European Union and the United States have not shaken the Burmese military regime which continues its repression of the pro-democracy movement and its anti-Western propaganda.

The junta’s official paper, the New Light of Myanmar, slammed Western powers, guilty in its eyes of fomenting September’s mass protest. According to the paper, demonstrators are staging a script written by foreign experts.

International pressures

The international community, to varying degrees and in accordance with individual national interests, continues its pressure on the Naypyidaw regime to end its repression and start a dialogue with the pro-democracy opposition.

The United States, which has been the junta’s most vocal critic, warned it could slap new sanctions on the military regime unless it halts atrocities against its own people.

The European Union announced that next Monday it will determine which sanctions to impose on the former Burma.

For its part, the UN Security Council finally opted only for a declaration in which it “strongly deplores” the violence the Myanmese regime used against the peaceful demonstrations.

In its statement the 15-member council calls on Myanmese authorities to release all political prisoners, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and start a dialogue with the opposition and the country’s main ethnic groups.

However, the resolution is not binding and will be voted on and adopted tomorrow. Its language was worked out to overcome objections from China and Russia, which feared that a too strongly-worded statement might further isolate the junta.

Analysts stress however that sanctions, best friends.

For this reason direct pressure must be put on China because it has huge interests in Myanmar. It is the military’s main arms supplier, sent in exchange for the country’s precious wood, minerals, gas and oil. It is also the main builder of roads and has swamped border regions with its goods.

More arrests across the country

Despite an apparent willingness to engage Aung San Suu Kyi in dialogue, nothing has changed in the country. Soldiers are no longer visible in the streets but they have been given carte blanche at night during curfew (9 pm to 5 am).

Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based website set up by dissident Burmese, is in fact reporting indiscriminate arrests in Mandalay for curfew violations. People who might be a bit late because of work are stopped by officers asking for money to be let go (usually 30,000 kyat). If the victim cannot pay he is taken to prison.

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